Making the Grades
Taking a road trip with a pair of badly behaved children in Are We There Yet? was enough to tempt almost any adult into leaving the terrible twosome stranded along a deserted stretch of highway. The idea, then, of renovating a house with Lindsey (Aleisha Allen) and Kevin (Philip Bolden) in the film's sequel seems anything but appealing.
Regardless of the dreadful road trip, Nick Persons (Ice Cube) has since married the children's mother Suzanne (Nia Long) and set up wedded life in his tiny city apartment. Packing a new wife, her children and a dog into the bachelor's pad is enough to cramp any man's style. So when Suzanne announces she is pregnant, Nick knows it is time to move on. Finding a stately, old house in the country, he loads up a rental trailer and transplants his family to a new locale.
As is to be expected, there is plenty of whining and dramatics from the kids who don't want to leave their friends behind. But considering their out-of-control antics in the first film they seem to adjust surprisingly well to their new surroundings. It's the scowling stepfather who is throwing the tantrums now. His biggest headache is their overly effusive real estate agent, Chuck Mitchell Jr. (John C. McGinley) who repeatedly shows up on their doorstep worming his way into the hearts of Suzanne and the kids. Nick's agitation increases even more when the dream house Chuck sold them starts requiring a nightmarish amount of money to repair.
Like the prequel, there is plenty of slapstick violence, most of it aimed at adults. In the opening credits alone, a cartoon figure is electrocuted, falls through the floor, tumbles off a ladder and is attacked by a deer. Throughout the movie, similar exploits are caused by handyman disasters like leaking roofs, broken floor joists and a belfry of bats that swarm the new homeowners. Parents will also find some brief sexual innuendo, a handful of profanities, and occasional tension between family members.
While the Persons' misadventures should caution anyone considering a fixer-upper, there is a slight redemptive value to this film. Unlike so many kids' rule scripts, adults in this story, at least occasionally, set boundaries for their children and follow through with the consequences. And despite his often cranky and inept attempts at bonding with the children, Nick is at least trying to connect.
Still, like remodeling a house, building relationships take a lot of work. While Nick and the kids make more progress than they did on their road trip, there's still plenty of labor needed to cement this crew into a family.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Are We Done Yet?.
What is the difference between a house and a home? How can a person be in attendance but not present in a family? In what ways does Nick become more involved with this new wife and children? How does that affect their relationship?
Sometimes it is easy to make snap judgments about others. How might those assessments change when we get to know more about someone and their background? How does Nick change his attitude as he gets to know the people in his community?