Notes from the back row 

Ice Cube melts

It happens all the time. Artists, be they actors, filmmakers, authors or musicians, get old and have children and realize that maybe there’s more to life than sex, drugs and rock and roll or sticking it to the man. They just want to create something they can sit down and enjoy with their children. Director Robert Rodriguez did it with the Spy Kids movies – he took a step back from his usual stylized gunplay and hot Latino sexuality (thanks Salma Hayek) and produced three solid family movies capable of entertaining kids and adults alike. Rodriguez, one of the best directors in America, got it right.

Ice Cube, on the other hand, gets it utterly and completely wrong this week with an absolute disgrace of a PG film, Are We There Yet? , which opens Friday at the Village 8.

It’s a road trip movie, in which Ice Cube, a smooth player type, has to drive a couple kids to Vancouver so they can be with their single mom, a MILF Cube wants to tap. The children, of course, are very protective of their mother and hard on anyone she dates. They conspire to scare Cube off. Its like Tommy Boy meets Home Alone meets Planes, Trains and Automobiles only six trillion times crappier than any of those. Perhaps, we should all be so very proud that this pile of garbage was filmed on our very own Sea to Sky Highway and that eyesore Britannia Beach plays quite a role. Unfortunately, movies made on the old Sea to Sky usually suck. Remember Intersection , the Sharon Stone/Richard Gere sexual thriller that was about as appealing as a mouthful of roofing nails? Or Walking Tall with the Rock? Blah. Our killer highway makes totally not-killer movies.

And what the hell is wrong with Ice Cube anyhow? I mean, granted, he’s never really impressed anyone as an actor ( Anaconda ? Haha,) but he was one of the most badass gangster rappers of all time – "The wrong nigga to f*ck with," – to quote one of his songs. And now he’s in a stupid kids’ movie riding a horse and getting shit-kicked by a deer, a doe at that. Even though everyone knows he hasn’t made a decent album since 1993’s Lethal Injection , I’d much rather see Cube back on the mic than wasting our time and money with this sort of unoriginal rubbish. It’s not funny when you’ve seen it all before, and better.

Interesting enough, Cube and Cuba Gooding Jr. both jumped into the spotlight in John Singleton’s 1991 classic, Boyz In the Hood. Each has since made their worst movies with director Brian Levant. Cube with Are We There Yet? and Gooding with that ultra-wise career move, Snow Dogs. My question is, how does this Levant guy still have a job? Especially considering he’s also responsible for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s worst film (and that’s a hard title to win) Jingle All the Way. What the hell is wrong with Brian Levant? How could anyone actually pay him to keep putting out all this drivel? It’s a mystery to me, but I do know this. Are We There Yet? is as about as much fun as puking up blood. Skip it and rent Planes, Trains and Automobiles for a real road comedy and let John Candy take you back to the good old days.

Speaking of the good old days, rent Boyz in the Hood, Higher Learning, or Friday for a look at Cube when he was fresh and decent. Nowadays, someone needs to put Ice Cube back in the freezer.

AT VILLAGE 8 Jan. 21-27: Closer; Are We There Yet?; Life Aquatic; Ocean’s Twelve; Assault on Precinct 13; Aviator; Racing Stripes; Elektra; Coach Carter; In Good Company; Meet the Fockers.

AT RAINBOW THEATRE Jan. 21-27: Blade: Trinity.

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