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Shouldn't Have Done It 

I went to a Saturday morning sneak preview of this film last week. It was packed with kids. A i5-year-old boy kicked the back of my seat for 87 minutes straight -- and that was the best part of my film-going experience. It was enough to make me keep wondering if we were done yet with Are We Done Yet?

This is an awful movie that is a complete waste of the audience's time. Oh, there were a couple of guffaws. There were even a couple of giggles from youngsters who like to see repetitive slapstick being repeated. But for the most part, no one was laughing or even making a sound. And an unusual number of folks were getting up to refill their Cokes, or hang out in the restrooms. Maybe they were refilling their Cokes so they'd be forced hang out in the restrooms.

Taking its cue from both the 2005 film Are We There Yet? (which featured the same central cast) and the 1948 film Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, Are We Done Yet? picks up on the Persons family -- Nick (Ice Cube), Suzanne (Nia Long), and their two young kids -- just as three important events are aligning. Their apartment is bursting at the seams (with sight gags galore of the stuff-popping-out-of-refrigerators and -closets types). Nick has quit his job and is starting up a sports magazine. (Hey, do you think he'll get Magic Johnson to pose for the cover?) And Suzanne announces that she's pregnant. (With -- wait... wait for it... twins!)

Heck, what are these poor Persons, er, people, to do but leave the city and purchase a gigantic house out in the country -- a house, mind you, in which door knobs are popping off, chandeliers are crashing down on kitchen tables, and an exuberant real estate agent (John C. McGinley in a shameless mug-job of a performance) is telling Nick and Suzanne how perfect this place is for them.

But never mind that, let's move on to beating dead horses. It's this McGinley character, Chuck Mitchell, that most of the film's humor is supposed to revolve around. Chuck, you see, isn't just a real estate agent -- he's also the local contractor and the housing inspector and the midwife. He's also a baby whisperer. Do you see where all of this is not going?

And that's before the excuse for a plot gets launched. The house, of course, is far from perfect. It's not just that it needs repairs -- this place should be demolished (and only then rebuilt). Instead, the script drags on and on about each new problem that Chuck remembers to mention. And as the beaming, scheming, histrionic Chuck continues to suck the Persons' money well dry, the script has the gall to turn him sympathetic with a cloying plot twist.

Even worse, Ice Cube is simply not funny. Bilking an unassuming family by selling them worthless property at an exorbitant price then pulling their walls down and tearing their floors up is not funny. Now, bodies falling from high places can definitely be funny. (The Three Stooges figured out how to do that long ago.) But the same body falling from high places over and over stops being funny after the second time. (I stopped counting after 12 of Cube's falls).

How about a snarling deer or a hissing raccoon -- will that make you giggle? I didn't think so. The really odd thing about all of this is that the original Blandings film, with Cary Grant and Myrna Loy, wasn't very good, either. There was every chance that a remake like Are We Done Yet? would tell the tale better. Instead, all it did was make the story painful.

ARE WE DONE YET?
(SKIP IT)
Rated PG
Directed by Steve Carr
Starring Ice Cube, Nia Long

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