Back in the late-1980s and the early-1990s, long before he made his film debut as Doughboy in John Singleton’s searing classic, “Boyz ‘N the Hood,” Ice Cube was known primarily as an incredible lyricist.
Over the past 16 years, since he exploded on the scene with startling authenticity in “BNTH,” Cube has settled into family-friendly fare. His latest film is “Are We Done Yet?” the sequel to the 2005 film, “Are We There Yet?”
For those who remember the original film, Cube played Nick Person, whose life became a living hell when he volunteered to transport two bad-ass kids, Kevin (Phillip Bolden) and Lindsey (Aleisha Allen), to Vancouver to see their mother, Suzanne (Nia Long). Unfortunately for Cube, both Kevin and Lindsey don’t like any man their mother is interested in and they proceed to ruin his Lincoln Navigator and get him in all sorts of trouble before understanding that he’s not that bad of a guy after all!
The latest film, based on “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House” (1948), continues the story with Nick and Suzanne now married and with her kids living in Nick’s tiny bachelor pad. With Suzanne expecting a baby and Nick now trying to launch a magazine, Suzanne convinces him to look for their “dream house” in the country. The couple meet realtor, Chuck Mitchell (John C. McGinley), who convinces them to buy a house straight out of “Money Pit.”
He is recommended to a contractor that just happens to be . . . Chuck! When Nick rebuffs him and finds another lower-priced contractor, he is fined by the inspector who also is . . . Chuck! On and on it goes, for Amerika’s Most Wanted in this slightly superior version of a sequel.
Where both Lindsey and Kevin were absolutely obnoxious in the original, they are toned down a bit in the sequel – but they have still have their moments. Suzanne is featured much more in this film, and the chemistry between Cube and Long is believable, forged over several films including, BNTH, Friday and the first film in this series. McGinley lets loose and injects some of the film’s funniest and strangest moments. Ironically, the film tries too hard to go for easy sight gags and quick laughs.
Much in the same way that Eddie Murphy was able to reinvent himself into a family friendly, PG-rated star, Cube has taken a page from Murphy’s blueprint in this lightly funny sequel. Maybe Cube should write the franchise’s third film, “Are We Back Yet?” It would probably suck, but it would be gangsta. Really, isn’t that all the studios care about anyway?