Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXI, No. 15
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
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For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

WAIT TILL I GET MY HANDS ON THAT RACCOON: Nick (Ice Cube, center), dressed in his pajamas and armed with a flashlight and a mop, goes after the raccoon who calls him "Sucker," while his children gleefully watch the show.

Are We Done Yet?: Slapstick Sequel an Improvement on the Original Formula

Kam Williams

Are We There Yet? (2005) was less a road comedy than a 90 minute car commercial. Fortunately, the sequel doesn't revolve around an automobile. In fact, nothing about this movie resembles the first, except for the four principals in the cast.

Ice Cube is back as Nick Persons, and he's now married to Nia Long's character, Suzanne, who is pregnant and expecting twins. He's also adopted her two children, Lindsey (Aleisha Allen) and Kevin (Philip Bolden), the two misbehaving little monsters who'd previously made his life miserable.

This time, though, Suzanne and the children are given little to do aside from dropping their jaws in wide-eyed reaction shots. This movie features Nick's frustrations with their new country home and his strained relationship with Chuck (John C. McGinley), the realtor who talked him into buying the fixer-upper that really needs a wholesale renovation.

The story is actually a remake of Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948), which starred Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, Melvyn Douglas and Louise Beavers. And while Ice Cube's acting has certainly improved with age, it doesn't measure up to the charismatic Grant in terms of charm and screen chemistry.

However, the movie is stolen by Mr. McGinley, a second banana who continually upstages his relatively wooden co-stars. He plays a jack-of-all-trades who, soon after selling the property to the Persons, returns not only as a contractor, but as the city inspector, a Lamaze counselor, an herbalist, a baby whisperer, and a midwife.

It looks as though director Steve Carr (Next Friday) employed McGinley in a variety of roles either to save his studio some money or because he was aware of the rubber-faced funny man's ability to make people laugh. It was a smart decision, because Chuck is the most entertaining part of the production.

As the film unfolds we realize that these black folks might have a hard time adjusting to the country, after living in the inner-city, when Lindsey complains to her parents, "I can't believe you're making us move to the country. This is child abuse of the worst kind." However, Nick is the only one who ends up overwhelmed by the relocation.

He is never allowed a peaceful moment, from being disturbed by a raccoon who calls him Sucker and by equally rude encounters with a deer, a sturgeon, and a hawk. However, it's Chuck who infuriates Nick, until he learns of the tragic loss which turned the formerly adoring husband into a crooked widower.

Stale and predictable, Are We Done Yet? is likely to be hilarious to children who enjoy plumber butt sight gags, anthropomorphic animals, and construction site slapstick for the very first time. Otherwise, "Yeah, we're done."

Fair (1½ stars). Rated PG for sexual innuendo and mild epithets. Running time: 92 minutes. Studio: Columbia Pictures.

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

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