Sunday, 1 April 2012

Film Review | Are We There Yet? (2005)

Child actors can make or break a film. In my experience, they're more likely to break it than make it. For every Haley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense there's usually several pint-sized performers who grate in every scene they fumble through. It's a rare occasion that a child actor can completely destroy anything a film ever had going for it, though. Even rarer that two children achieve this in tandem. For this reason, and this reason alone, Are We There Yet? needs to be seen for you to truly understand the crimes against cinema that are committed within its ninety five minute running time.

Nick (Ice Cube) hates children. Lindsey and Kevin (Aleisha Allen and Philip Daniel Bolden) hate every new suitor their mother Suzanne (Nia Long) brings home. After Nick and Suzanne get together, Nick volunteers to travel with her kids across the country to prove his dedication to her. Cue a series of disastrous encounters and mishaps.

Let's get the basic problems out of the way first. Are We There Yet? is derivative and predictable, packed with humour poor in both taste and execution. There's urination. There's vomit. At one point, Ice Cube has a full-on punch up with a wild deer. That's the level we're on here.

But all that is by the by. Are We There Yet? plumbs its deepest depths by featuring two of the most obnoxious, bile-inducing, poisonous prepubescent Satan spawn ever committed to celluloid. They aren't cute. They aren't funny. They laugh at the pain of others. And not in a Macauley-Culkin-defending-his-house-against-burglars-at-Christmas kind of way. These are children who inflict pain for no reason other than their own entertainment. These are children who see destruction of property as fun. These are children who see no problem in endangering another person's life by implying they've been kidnapped. They are purely and comprehensively awful.

Not only does this make watching any scene involving Lindsey and Kevin about as enjoyable as swallowing a packet of razor blades and washing it down with battery acid, from a plot point of view it also provides a pretty big problem. When the children discover that their natural father, whom they would much rather their mother got back with than find someone new, has no time for them any more, we're supposed to feel sorry for them and understand why they are the way they are. Except that we don't. We really really don't at all. By this point, Lindsey and Kevin have been set up as such an excruciating and repellent presence that it's impossible to feel anything but hatred towards them, let alone anything resembling sympathy.

All this adds up to one of the most abhorrent film experiences of recent years. If anything, to create a film of such overwhelming terribleness should be seen as something of a feat in itself. But it doesn't mean you should watch it. Nobody needs to watch this film. I may have said that Are We There Yet? needs to be seen to be believed, but in truth, stay far far away. I've watched and reviewed it to save you from unnecessary pain.


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