Combustible Celluloid
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With: Ice Cube, Nia Long, John C. McGinley, Aleisha Allen, Philip Bolden, Jonathan Katz, Linda Kash, Alexander Kalugin, Dan Joffre, Pedro Miguel Arce, Tahj Mowry, Jacob Vargas, Brenda Prieur, Hayes MacArthur, Magic Johnson
Written by: Hank Nelken, based on characters created by Steven Gary Banks, Claudia Grazioso, and on the screenplay Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, by Norman Panama, Melvin Frank
Directed by: Steve Carr
MPAA Rating: PG for some innuendos and brief language
Running Time: 92
Date: 04/04/2007

Are We Done Yet? (2007)

1 Star (out of 4)

Damage 'Done'

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Nearly twenty years ago, Ice Cube announced his arrival on NWA's groundbreaking album Straight Outta Compton (1988): "Crazy motherf---er named Ice Cube," he bellowed. "When I'm called off/I got a sawed-off/Squeeze the trigger, and bodies are hauled off." Cube quickly turned that fearsome personality into a gripping screen persona, and over the years has learned to combine it with a cuddly humility. He found a nice balance in the Barbershop films, but seems to have tipped too far lately, in 2005's Are We There Yet? and in its new, unwarranted sequel, Are We Done Yet?

The first film placed Cube behind the wheel of a sweet new ride, transporting his girlfriend's kids cross-country. At least Cube was able to hold onto some of his original edge for that film, but in this sequel, Nick (Cube) has softened. Married and living with Suzanne (Nia Long) and the kids in his cramped apartment, he has sold his sports memorabilia store in hopes of starting a sports magazine. All he needs is an interview with 'Magic' Johnson (apparently, he already has lots of other articles, advertisers, etc.).

Sadly, nothing is sacred and this new film is an official, credited remake of Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948), starring Cary Grant and Myrna Loy. So Nick moves the entire brood, plus a set of twins on the way, to a house in the country. A slick real estate agent, Chuck (John C. McGinley, best known for his role as Dr. Perry Cox on "Scrubs"), sells Nick the money pit, then turns up again as the town's contractor, electrician and inspector. It turns out that Chuck is one of those perfect, skillful guys. This causes the brutish, insensitive Nick to fret and fuss for 90 minutes, while his family fawns over their new friend.

If the movie had simply placed the streetwise Cube in the country and told a fish-out-of-water story, it might have had something, but instead it follows a tired, family-film formula, grinding along on worn-out gears. And despite his trademark scowl, Cube can't keep himself from looking sheepish. That's where the title comes in.

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