With his N.W.A days long behind him, a stalled solo career and roles in thuggish action thrillers on hold since XXX: State of the Union belly flopped, Ice Cube continues to cultivate his status as a family-friendly star who mugs and pratfalls his way into the hearts of pint-sizers. No wonder: His shrill, low-budget 2005 comedy, Are We There Yet?, made almost $100 million.
Shrewd producer that he is, Cube has crafted a sequel around those same characters, grafting them onto the minor Cary Grant comedy Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House. The Oregon setting and Escalade ride return, as does the 1948 original’s easy jabs about male pride and its duels with overbudget home renovations and construction-crew miscommunications. Cube is no Grant, but he does have the easygoing charm that won over audiences of the Friday and Barbershop franchises. Not so with Scrubs star John C. McGinley, who is at his best playing jerks but pops up here as a local Realtor-electrician-contractor with a grating grin and a cheesy heart of gold. Even though the cinematic foundation of this cheap prefab fluff is a message of family togetherness, the building materials—boneheaded behavior, overwrought conflict, treacly sentiment—have classic dry rot. (Now playing; Click here for venues.)—Stephen Garrett