Starring: Ice Cube, Aleisha Allen, Philip Bolden
Director: Brian Levant
Running Time: 95 mins
Are We There Yet? is an American film about a selfish man with a love for women but a hatred for children who, in order to impress a single mother he has become friends with, takes up the task of transporting her two kids to Vancouver, with no idea of the chaos that is about to ensue.
If there’s one word to describe this film, it’s annoying. With two of the most infuriating child performances of all time, coupled with a story that’s almost entirely focused on sending you clinically insane, you’ll be gritting your teeth right from the very start. It may have a simple, entertaining enough story that very occasionally makes for some fun, but on the whole, this is an exceptionally irritating movie that you definitely don’t want to be sitting through.
And the main reason for that are the two children. Now, many films have featured precocious and deliberately annoying children and haven’t sent me mad, so why is this any different? Well, for one, the writing makes the two children completely loathsome, as it misses the opportunity to get you on their side of the argument by revealing too much about their own family early on, something that means you have no sympathy for their actions, and absolutely no sense of shock when they have to come to terms with something difficult.
Although the very short final act does a good job at redeeming the two kids somewhat, the majority of this film is an onslaught of incessant screaming and irritation. That may be the very point, but it’s not funny or interesting in any way, and that’s why it’s almost impossible to bear watching the utter madness that unfolds throughout here.
What’s more is that the two young actors give some of the worst child performances I’ve ever seen. Now, a film’s director and screenplay of course have a bigger role in shaping the children’s on-screen performances, but the fact remains that Aleisha Allen is a painfully precocious and irritating presence, and Philip Bolden offers very little beyond screaming his head off, meaning that they consistently add to the pain of watching this film.
The only saving grace when it comes to the performances is Ice Cube. Although it’s not the brilliantly angry, world-weary Ice Cube that we’ve seen in the likes of Jump Street, it’s still a pretty entertaining performance that features a good few bursts of pure rage that do make for some good laughs. If it weren’t for him, the film would have been completely lost, and any attempts to redeem it in the film’s slightly jollier final act would have been a massive failure.
Speaking of that final act, it’s not all that bad. Although nothing particularly special, being more or less a continuation of the family-friendly comedy vibe, the film does finally make the two kids slightly bearable, which makes a world of difference when it comes to having some fun. Maybe it was just the sense of relief after 80-odd minutes of screaming, but I did have a lot of fun with a simple, if not slightly cheesy, end to the movie.
Overall, I was really irritated by Are We There Yet, and although it does have a few saving graces that mean it’s not totally unbearable to watch, the presence of two almost irredeemable child characters screaming their heads off throughout the movie is enough to make me often hate this movie, and that’s why I’m giving it a 5.9.