Are We Done Yet?



This review was written for the theatrical release of "Are We Done Yet?"

Mr. Cube builds his dream house in "Are We Done Yet?" which essentially takes the "Are We There Yet?" characters and grafts them into the basic plot line for the classic RKO comedy "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House," in which Cary Grant played Mr. Blandings, a man who predated "Green Acres' " Oliver Douglas by a couple of decades.

While the refurbished version would never be taken as an improvement over the original, it makes for a generally inoffensive hour-and-a-half, and with a certifiably gonzo John C. McGinley providing the bulk of the laughs, it is definitely less obnoxious than those "Cheaper by the Dozen" remakes.

It also is better than the 2005 Ice Cube comedy that still managed to gross a highly respectable $82 million. Given the new film's pre-Easter weekend release strategy, it should play well with kids and home improvement fanatics, though others could find themselves relating to the title on more than one occasion.

The last time we saw Ice Cube's Nick Persons, he was trapped in an SUV with two kids traveling from Portland to Vancouver. Now fully domesticated, Nick, his bride, Suzanne (Nia Long), and her two growing children (Aleisha Allen, Philip Daniel Bolden) are finding his former bachelor pad a little cramped, and with twins on the way, bigger quarters are required sooner rather than later.

They find the sprawling house of their dreams in the rural Pacific Northwest (courtesy of British Columbia), which affords lots of fresh air and lakeside views. It also proves to be a major money pit, but Persons is so taken in by a local real estate agent's ("Scrubs" regular McGinley) slick sales pitch, he fails to notice all the telltale signs.

As it turns out, McGinley's ingratiating Chuck Mitchell Jr. wears a number of hats, including building inspector and contractor, and before Nick knows what has hit him, Chuck has moved his Airstream trailer into the Persons' yard to oversee the neverending renovations.

Directed by Steve Carr, who helmed Ice Cube's "Next Friday," and adapted by Hank Nelken ("Saving Silverman"), the picture delivers the requisite number of pratfalls, and the genial Ice Cube makes for a credibly hapless everyman, but the comedy still feels a little too safely soft around the edges. A little more inspiration could have made it something enjoyable instead of simply innocuous.

Visually, cinematographer Jack Green, a frequent Clint Eastwood collaborator, effectively captures all those unobstructed, picture-perfect vistas. Production designer Nina Ruscio rightfully lends the house a distinctive character of its own.

Should the Persons family return for another sequel, here's hoping they at least don't take another dip into the RKO vault and turn "Citizen Kane" into "Are We Rich Yet?"

Columbia Pictures
Revolution Studios presents an RKO Pictures/Cube Vision production
Director: Steve Carr
Screenwriter: Hank Nelken
Based on characters created by: Steven Gary Banks, Claudio Grazioso
Based on the motion picture "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House," screenplay by Norman Panama and Melvin Frank
Producers: Ted Hartley, Ice Cube, Matt Alvarez, Todd Garner
Executive producers: Heidi Santelli, Aaron Ray, Steve Carr, Derek Dauchy, Neil Machlis
Director of photography: Jack Green
Production designer: Nina Ruscio
Editor: Craig P. Herring
Music: Teddy Castellucci
Nick Persons: Ice Cube
Suzanne Persons: Nia Long
Chuck Mitchell Jr.: John C. McGinley
Lindsey Persons: Aleisha Allen
Kevin Persons: Philip Daniel Bolden
Running time -- 92 minutes
MPAA rating: PG