Are We There Yet?—Columbia/TriStar
Before XXX State of the Union iced his destiny as an action star, Ice Cube stretched his wings with this charming but fairly routine family-bonding flick that hit box-office bling earlier this year. The family here is a surrogate, as Cube hauls a pair of spirited kids from Portland, Oregon, to Vancouver in his new Lincoln Navigator in order to win points with their hottie divorce mom. Illicit thoughts of mom aside, the road trip actually brings him close to the two brats. It's a no-lose formula, and any film with Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek's Lt. Uhura) earns extra points in my book.
This film was originally intended as an Adam Sandler vehicle, before his schedule precluded it and Cube's production company picked it up. We're also treated to an energetic commentary track by director Brian Levant, recorded while the film was still being readied for theatrical release. "Will you be hearing this on a tenth-anniversary special-edition DVD or one you pick from the bargain bin?" he asks frankly at the outset. Other supplements include a terrific deleted scene, storyboards, a gag reel, and a tour of the sports-collectibles shop owned by Cube's character. It makes for a nice package.
The 1.85:1 anamorphic picture is beyond reproach and nicely captures the radiant beauty of the Pacific Northwest. And the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack serves up some nice ambient surprises, like the odd arrow whizzing past your head.
Take this one out for a spin with the kids.