Ice Cube……….Nick Persons
Nia Long……….Suzanne Persons
John C. McGinley……….Chuck Mitchell Jr.
Aleisha Allen……….Lindsey Persons
Philip Bolden……….Kevin Persons
Jonathan Katz……….Mr. Rooney
Linda Kash……….Mrs. Rooney
Alexander Kalugin……….Russian Contractor
Dan Joffre……….Billy Pulu
Pedro Miguel Arce……….Georgie Pulu
Tahj Mowry……….Danny Pulu
Jacob Vargas……….Mike the Plumber
Brenda Prieur……….Grandma Pulu
Hayes MacArthur……….Jimmy the Bartender
Colin Strange……….Persons’ Twins
Are We Done Yet? would be great entertainment if it were not made in a post-ironic world. Sadly, that is not the case and the film suffers from looking similar to multiple films in which the main star gets dumped on from all angles. Often times, it is difficult for the audience not to feel the same nausea Nick (Ice Cube) feels as his world comes crashing down both literally and figuratively.
Nick’s troubles begin innocuously enough when he is schmoozed into buying his dream house by Chuck (John C. McGinley). The house turns into a money pit (and the plot turns into The Money Pit) the second Chuck drives away. Nick soon finds out that help in fixing the joint will always go through Chuck. Whether it is an electrical problem, foundational problem, or even troubles with his wife’s pregnancy, Chuck can do it all. Eventually, his overwhelming can-do spirit and Nick’s reluctance to accept it makes him look like the least gracious host since Dr. Leo Marvin in What About Bob?
To say everything turns out okay ignores the fact that regardless of the slapstick unfolding around him, Nick has some serious character flaws and a rocky relationship with his family. But viewers are not supposed to think about that; a point that is highlighted by many hit-and-miss gimmicks.
Animals with human characteristics, McGinley’s man of many hats, and Nick’s overprotective cuckoldry are a few jokes that go at least as far back as Chevy Chase. While that comparison used to be a compliment, Ice Cube isn’t even as funny as a present day Chase. That is partly because Cube is not built for comedy; he delivers each of his lines with the same “gangsta” authority as he did when he was telling everyone to chiggity-check themselves before they wrecked themselves.
The other problem extends from the first, namely Meet the Parents style movies do not call for the victim to convey any sort of confidence or ability to fight back. Laughs are supposed to be derived from knowing that Nick is not the one who is crazy. Even Tom Hanks and Shelley Long suffered together in The Money Pit. Now the audience must choose to laugh at the protagonist rather than with him. It seems viewers are supposed to revel in the “better him than me” aspect of it all; an approach that is less than sympathetic. Thus, AWDY? necessitates the audience to relate to the antagonist.
As antagonists go, few are more likeable than McGinley. It is refreshing to see him discard the narcissism of Dr. Cox from Scrubs while not ditching his trademark delivery. The humanity he exudes instead allows one not to feel guilty as Nick is swindled by McGinley’s Chuck from many angles while he represents his extensive resume. Chuck’s smarminess would be suffocating if not for it being the only thing in the film that feels completely organic.
McGinley’s fun performance comes close to saving Are We Done Yet? from its contrived plot, thin characters, and sadistic punishment of its protagonist. Combined with the more goofy elements and random editing the film offers, McGinley’s turn harkens back to films from Hollywood’s studio system era. This feels almost appropriate as the film is a remake of Cary Grant’s Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House. However, the film would still miss its mark if everyone else had tapped that same old school energy because there does not seem to be a demand for absurd hijinks and shenanigans presently. Even in popcorn fare such as this, there seems to be a tendency to try to add more weight to a character’s actions.
It is a shame too because Are We Done Yet? shows promise at times. But mostly it feels like Meet the Parents with a more urban flavor, a concoction that upsets one’s stomach enough to steal a Tums from a chipmunk. There was a time when we would not have wanted to be done yet, but now even the movie’s title is wishing for the end.
FINAL RATING (ON A SCALE OF 1-5 BUCKETS):