Obviously wanting to be a new "National Lampoon's Vacation" movie (crossed with some "Home Alone" hijinks), "Are We There Yet?" stars as a very uncomfortable Ice Cube in his first family feature. Cube plays Nick, the owner of a sports memorabilia store that happens to hate children. One day, he spots a hot chick (Nia Long) that he has to hook up with - his only problem: she's got two children: Lindsey (Aleisha Allen) and asthmatic Kevin (Philip Bolden).
He's about to dump her due to the fact that they're stuck in the "friend zone", but he eventually agrees to give things another chance and take her two little kids to Vancouver, where she's planning a party, and meet her there. Not surprisingly, the kids manage to make Nick's life miserable as he tries to go by plane, then train and then car.
Lets put aside the film's issues, shall we? Things like the fact that the kids seem to act out because of unresolved issues with the divorce of their parents. There's also the fact that the mother lets her kids go with a guy that she just recently met, and gets upset with him when they're not there when she wants them to be. That said, the kids are not exactly made sympathetic, as the two young actors are stuck being pretty mean-spirited, irritable and even almost evil. They delight in getting Nick into trouble and whenever he gets hurt, they think its hilarious. He hates the little brats, but at least he's trying. These kids don't need Nick - they need "Nanny 911".
Ice Cube doesn't look exactly comfortable in the role, but he manages to work his way through the rather bland comedy without too much negative impact. The two little kids aren't too bad, but they are stuck with script characters that are a little too horrible to be tolerated - eventually, Nick's car even gets destroyed. To make matters worse, the mother (Long) isn't exactly understanding when they finally arrive.
If anything, there are a few moderately funny bits scattered throughout the movie, and there's also plenty of really nice scenery as the group heads throughout the Northwest. "Are We There Yet?" isn't a complete loss, but it could have been much better if - among other things - the kids not been so horrific.
VIDEO: "Are We There Yet?" is presented by Sony Pictures Home Video in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The film's transfer to DVD is generally very good, with images that aren't razor sharp, but continually look crisp and fairly well-defined. Some minor edge enhancement and slight pixelation was spotted throughout the presentation, but no print flaws were noticed. The film's color palette is generally natural; although there are some bright colors and nice scenery, the skies stay pretty overcast throughout.
SOUND: "Are We There Yet?" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. The film's sound mix is generally a "comedy" mix, with the majority of the sound spread across the front speakers. The surrounds provide some minor information - a little musical reinforcement here, a little ambience there - but are mostly quiet. Audio quality is fine, with dynamic-sounding tunes and clear dialogue.
EXTRAS: The DVD includes: director's commentary from Brian Levant, outtakes, deleted scenes, a "making-of", storyboard comparisons, trailers (including an upcoming Special Edition DVD of "Jumanji") and sports memorabilia showcase.
Final Thoughts: "Are We There Yet?" has the elements of a decent comedy, but the story needs a little work and the two kids are over-the-top brats for too much of the film. Columbia/Tristar's DVD edition provides fine audio/video quality and a few interesting supplements. Maybe a rental for those interested.