Are We There Yet?


As one of the original progenitors of the west coast hip hop movement 15 years ago (without which there’d be no lexicons of black culture insinuating themselves into our everyday language), Ice Cube has been around a long time, and he’s the last kind of guy you’d expect to see in a family comedy.

But far from indicating that the man born O’Shea Jackson has gone off the rails, it’s testimony to his wise approach to selling himself.

Beginning with a support role in John Singleton’s Boyz N the Hood in 1991, Cube has forged a film career for himself as his brand of angry black man rap fell out of fashion (and stayed that way until the advent of Eminem).

Since then, he’s had some enviable roles in projects like David O (I Heart Huckabees) Russel’s Three Kings and nurtured two successful franchises, the Barbershop and Friday movies — through his own production company, Cube Vision. And with the huge success of Are We There Yet and the title role in Sony’s 2005 summer blockbuster hopeful, XXX2, Cube is currently front and centre in Hollywood.

He still raps — most recently as part of trio Westside Connection — still selling the cult of the Lexus, pinkie ring and AK-47 to white America’s youth, but that persona is a far cry from the Are We There Yet? Ice Cube.

Playing confirmed bachelor and kid hater Nick Persons, Cube tones his gangsta persona right down to PG levels but lets enough through to ensure his appeal. Entranced by the woman who works across the street from his sports memorabilia store, he proceeds to woo her, despite the presence of her children in the equation.

He doesn’t know the half of it — the kids are fully armed with attitude and smarts to see off any potential suitor to their mother, convinced in their innocence their father will be back.

When he pulls out of his visitation obligations while their mother is in Canada on business, Nick dutifully offers to see that they reach her, thinking he’ll have to do nothing more than drop them at the airport.

Of course, we want to see what trouble the kids can get Nick into — not to mention the damage the can do to his gleaming new SUV.

Derailing the plane flight and then a train trip, they leave Nick no choice but to drive them himself, getting an unwitting and unwanted crash course in child rearing on the way.

Being family friendly Hollygloss, everyone attains the expected redemption, and Nick (somehow) learns to love the kids despite their having effortlessly trashed his sense of cool and caused him considerable physical discomfort.

The character arc is no surprise, but Cube brings a charm to it only he can, and if the kids do insist on dragging you along, you’ll enjoy a few laughs.

2.5 stars


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