Are We Done Yet? feels like a movie without a script. It offers no laughs and no surprises, and for most of its 90 minutes, it plays like an exact copy of its deplorable predecessor Are We There Yet?. (Very) young filmgoers may occasionally appreciate the film’s humdrum silliness, but adults are likely to check their watch and think: Is this movie over yet? The plot picks up shortly after Nick Persons (Ice Cube) successfully delivers his promise to taxi his girlfriend’s mischievous kids from Oregon to Vancouver. He and Suzanne (Nia Long) are now married, but their life is far from perfect.
They all live in a cramped downtown flat, Nick has trouble selling his concept for a sports magazine, and Suzanne announces that she’s pregnant with twins. In an attempt to escape the stress of the big city, the Persons decide to move to the countryside, where they are tricked into buying a real fixer-upper. Lacking the budget to let the pros handle the building, Nick decides to do the renovation himself. Needless to say, that will only lead to chaos and family turmoil.
Are We Done Yet? is based on H.C. Potter’s popular 1948 light comedy Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (written by Melvin Frank and Norman Panama, from Eric Hodgins’ book), which starred Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, and Melvyn Douglas. This new version was directed by Steve Carr, whose Rebound and Daddy Day Care failed to score with critics. Unfortunately, Hank Nelken’s screenplay gives Carr one too many opportunities to shove down our throats scenes of ridiculous slapstick and banal dialogue. In fact, watching Are We Done Yet? feels like experiencing déjà vu.
All the filmmakers accomplish is the mindlessly recycling of material from recent comedies (think Cheaper by the Dozen 2 crossed with Doctor Dolittle). Inventiveness and creativity are to be avoided at all costs. Thus, we get to watch Ice Cube as he faces a number of yawn-inducing obstacles on his way to fix a house and build a family.
A fight with a raccoon is only one of them. Films with hopeless plots sometimes rely on solid acting to counterbalance things, but Are We Done Yet? avoided that route, too. Ice Cube tries to play it cool, but delivers his lines without either heart or soul – even when getting all fired up about a luxurious private toilet. The same applies to Aleisha Allen and Philip Bolden, who reprise their roles as Nia Long’s annoying brats. The movie’s only positive asset is John C. McGinley, best known for his hilarious performance as Dr. Perry Cox on the television series Scrubs.
In Are We Done Yet?, McGinley’s multiple roles as real estate agent, contractor, and midwife provide him with a good opportunity to bring the film to life in a handful of eccentric moments. But apart from McGinley, Are We Done Yet? is a complete failure from start to finish. The movie’s tagline ironically reads: “New Home. New Family. What could possibly go wrong?” Truth be told, in this picture, just about everything.
© Franck Tabouring
Are We Done Yet? (2007). Director: Steve Carr. Screenplay: Hank Nelken, from Melvin Frank and Norman Panama’s screenplay for Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, which was based on a novel by Eric Hodgins. Cast: Ice Cube, Nia Long, John C. McGinley, Aleisha Allen, Philip Bolden.