A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this sequel to Are We There Yet? follows a blended family in which there's significant tension between the stepfather and kids. Like most family comedies, there are dozens of sight gags and pratfalls. Three blind plumbers and two obese Hawaiian subcontractors are competent workers -- which makes their unnecessarily stereotypical depictions even more obvious. A 13-year-old girl is portrayed as boy crazy and wears revealing outfits in a couple of scenes. She also flirts and sneaks out to party with an older teenage construction worker. Mom Suzanne has a discreet homebirth, although her husband passes out after checking to see whether the baby has crowned.
What's the story?
In ARE WE DONE YET? -- a loose remake of the Cary Grant-Myrna Loy classic Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House -- Nick (Ice Cube) shares a crowded apartment with his new wife, Suzanne (Nia Long) and her two kids, with a new pair of twins on the way. The clan leaves Portland for the country to renovate a grand 19th-century mansion -- which, as it turns out, basically needs to be gutted and rebuilt, plank-by-plank and pipe-by-pipe. Hovering over every step of the process is town realtor/contractor/inspector/counselor/midwife Chuck (John C. McGinley). Having sold the fixer-upper, Chuck becomes persona non grata to Nick, but the rest of the family adores his quirky, all-knowing ways -- even moody 13-year-old Lindsey (Aleisha Allen), who's too boy-crazy to notice much of anyone.
Is it any good?
At this point, you wonder whether there will ever be a family comedy that doesn't show a dad getting smacked in the face with flying kitchen debris or in the groin with a pain-inducing object. The omission of those trite sight gags would be a novel idea indeed, but the sequel to Are We There Yet? isn't original enough to survive without such familiar scenes. That said, it is much better (and cleaner) than the original.
McGinley steals the show with Chuck's goofy-but-wise antics and exhaustive résumé (he's an expert in Capoiera, a former L.A. Laker, and a championship power-walker). Meanwhile, Long -- a lovely and talented actress -- seems decorative by comparison, which is a shame, since she's got great comic timing. Despite the all-too-familiar nature of its home-improvement jokes and teenage-daughter dilemmas, some families might get a belly laugh or two out of this formulaic film. Just don't expect a trilogy.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the media portrays blended families. Is Nick's relationship with his stepkids realistic? What kinds of issues do blended families face in real life? Families can also discuss the media's take on kids' transition into full-blown adolescence. How is Lindsey similar to and different from 13-year-olds you know? Why is Nick so upset about the way she dresses? Parents and kids can also talk about stereotypes. How does the movie portray Hawaiian people and the blind? Is it funny or offensive? Why?
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