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Are We Done Yet? Print E-mail
Saturday, 01 December 2007

Image “Are We Done Yet?,” the family-comedy sequel to “Are We There Yet?,” follows the basic premise of its predecessors, “Mr. Blanding Builds His Dream House,” and the 1986 Tom Hanks vehicle, “The Money Pit.” Starring Ice Cube (now somehow family friendly), the film plays out in highly predictable fashion, providing little laughter and entertainment. Understanding that I wasn’t the film’s target market, I was skeptical if I would enjoy the movie even as a youngster. While I didn’t hold any private screenings for children, I talked to a couple parents that made the mistake of seeing this in the theater with their kids. The consensus seemed to be an unsatisfying and painful experience. One mom said, “My kids hated it and we wasted $70.00. We should’ve gone to Chuck-E-Cheese.”

Thank heavens for home video. I only had to sacrifice two hours of my life and the extra few minutes it took to watch the bonus features. The most interesting thing about the movie is probably the genius marketing idea to appropriately title the film, “Are We Done Yet?” I assume this was some kind of inside joke at the studio, maybe even a bet to see if they could push the title past the oblivious executives. Whatever the case, it seems to be the recurring question throughout this roller-coaster of a stinker.

Ice Cube plays Nick Persons, recent bachelor turned husband with two stepchildren. When the lovable Suzanne (Nia Long) announces she’s pregnant with twins, they decide that Nick’s flat is inadequate. To accommodate the growing family and Nick’s need for peace and quiet while he gets his new sports magazine off the ground, they head to the Oregon countryside in search of their dream home. Zany real estate agent Chuck Mitchell Jr. (John C. McGinley) shows them a house with a price that sounds too good to be true. The house turns out to be a black hole of major repairs and headaches. Coincidentally, Chuck is the local contractor who also just so happens to be the local yoga instructor, a Polynesian fire-dancer, and professional midwife. The remainder of the film plays out in a series of over-the-top run-ins with Chuck and Nick falling through floors and fighting with various rodents. The latter is actually quite hilarious and inspired me to give the film a half-star bump. While I’m not sure this is intentional, I found myself laughing hysterically every time the filmmakers used CGI to give the animals some ridiculous Jim Carrey-like facial expression. These moments come so far out of left field, they play more like absurd surrealism than broad family comedy. Regardless, these scenes are priceless.

Presented in 1080p with an AVC MPEG-4 encode, “Are We Done Yet?” is blessed with a stellar transfer. The picture is sharp and glossy with plenty of vibrant colors that may not be realistic, but are perfect for a light-hearted family film. Even low light situations maintain excellent shadow delineation with no apparent video noise or artifacting. This is not to say the film employs the most beautiful or astounding cinematography, it’s just an excellent transfer and what should be expected from a hi-definition presentation.

The audio package is a little underwhelming even with an uncompressed 5.1 PCM track, though I highly doubt it has anything to do with the transfer. The surround channels get hardly any use, except for scenes where Nick is crashing through the floor or falling off the roof. Ambient sounds are barely audible which results in rare moments of sound-field envelopment. To its credit, the audio track is crisp and clean with dialogue balanced and perfectly clear.

Even more of a shame than the movie itself is the supplements package. All the features from the standard DVD are ported over and presented in pristine 1080i video. That’s the good news. Unfortunately, all are a bit short, and at the expense of sounding like a bad person, two of them are hosted by the far-from-lovable child co-stars (Aleisha Allen and Philip Daniel Bolden). These are unbearable, and I advise anyone bored enough to rent this to avoid the bonus features all together. Even a highlight reel with the talented John C. McGinley is lame and quite simply; not funny.

I am well aware that I’m not the intended audience for “Are We There Yet?” but that doesn’t excuse the fact that the film is nothing more than an uninspired, obligatory sequel. Even for the fans of the first installment, this will be a disappointment. Despite a spectacular video transfer, I can’t recommend this title as a purchase or rental.

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