“Are We Done Yet?” — one of the more loaded movie titles in recent memory — is supposedly based on “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House,” but has about as much to do with that frothy Cary Grant confection as a Yugo has to do with a 1948 Buick Roadster. Both are vehicles. Both eventually reach a destination. The question is, what kind of ride are you looking for? Fans of Ice Cube’s previous “Are We There Yet?” and his perpetually dyspeptic persona will pile in; others will head in the opposite direction, perhaps on the bus.
Director Steve Carr’s updated homeowning-as-nightmare comedy restores Cube to the role of Nick Persons, a man who apparently never heard the old line about making God laugh (How? “Make plans”).
Nick recently married Suzanne (Nia Long), a sweetheart with two children (Aleisha Allen, Philip Daniel Bolden), who announces she’s pregnant. With twins. They’re all squeezed into Nick’s old bachelor flat, so they decide, since they have nothing else to do, to buy a house.
Not just a house — the most spectacular house in Vancouver, on a grassy lawn that seems to roll all the way to the Yukon Territories. Architecturally, however, it’s a basket case: dry rot, bad pipes, faulty wiring. Fortunately, local contractor Chuck Mitchell Jr. (John C. McGinley) — who also happens to be the local real-estate agent, and the building inspector (and a yoga instructor, and a Polynesian fire-dancer) — is on hand to help.
McGinley, currently committing a similar outrage against restraint in “Wild Hogs,” plays Chuck as so sweetly crazy, obnoxious, calculating and over-the-top that, in contrast with Nick’s ongoing sourness, he can’t help but steal the movie.
It is, however, petty larceny. Helmer Carr relies on the hoariest slapstick — how often can Ice Cube fall through a floor? The kids come off like little spokesmodels, or aliens, and if not for Long’s implausibly patient, good-natured Suzanne, there wouldn’t be a recognizably human character in the film (although the crew of blind plumbers is a good joke). For his part, McGinley seems to have just arrived from the Bizarro World version of “This Old House.”
Production is predictably slick; the animation sequences are gratuitous. “Are We Done Yet?” has less to do with “Mr. Blandings” than it does with Richard Benjamin’s 1986 “The Money Pit,” and as any homeowner would say after re-re-shingling the roof, haven’t we been there and done that?