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Movie Review

There's just not enough room in Nick's little apartment for his new wife, Suzanne, her two kids, Lindsey and Kevin, and a fledgling magazine business. So the Persons decide to look for a nice place outside the city that might let them spread out a bit. They find a sprawling country home with property, fruit trees and even a small guest cottage where Nick can write. The realty agent, Chuck, calls it a fixer-upper, but to the happy couple it seems just about perfect—especially since they learned that Suzanne will soon give birth to twins.

What seemed heaven-sent soon turns into something quite the opposite as Nick realizes that the house is in need of more fixing than he'd planned. The electrical system is fried, the plumbing corroded, the walls have dry-rot and Nick begins to wonder if he has bats in his chimney and raccoons in his belfry. The bills mount up while everything else in Nick's life—including his family and his business—begins to crumble down around his feet.

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Positive Elements

Nick, for all his bluster, sincerely wants to "become a true family" with Suzanne and her children. And the importance of family becomes the movie's theme. Nick recognizes how his frustration and negative choices have estranged him from his wife and the kids. And he takes steps to repair what he knows is important. (There's no question that the film uses physical repairs to draw attention to emotional and psychological ones.) When Nick wants to throw in the towel and sell their disintegrating house, Suzanne asks him, "Is that what you want to teach Kevin? When the going gets tough, you quit?"

Nick apologizes to his family, spends time with the kids and selflessly serves them to make up for his failures. He takes Kevin fishing and the two connect. "FYI, I think you're a cool son," says the stepdad. Then, when a large fish pulls Kevin in, Nick (who's afraid of drowning) immediate jumps in to save the boy.

Chuck, meanwhile, connects with Suzanne and the kids while driving Nick to distraction. But in the end the two men recognize their common ground and give of themselves to help one another through their problems. Right before Lindsey and her family move, a bunch of kids from the neighborhood gathers to hug her and send her off. During a heated argument Nick fires Chuck, prompting all of the other workers to pack to leave as well, saying, "It's called loyalty, Mr. Persons." A young guy is held accountable by his older brothers, and he apologizes to Nick for taking Lindsey to a party without asking for permission.

Spiritual Content

The family gathers at the dinner table, and Nick asks Lindsey to give thanks. Lonesome for her friends, she asks, "Why, are we going home?" And then she turns her prayer into a protest with, "Thanks for all the blessings You've given us—before they were taken away."

Chuck touches Suzanne's stomach and psychically (and correctly) senses that she is pregnant with twins. He further asks if she and Nick want to know the sex of the babies. The camera scans across several photos of Chuck; he's wearing a white monk robe in one picture.

Sexual Content

When Nick and Suzanne are standing on a roof-side porch deciding to purchase the house, Suzanne says, "There are a lot of rooms in this house that are going to need breaking in." Nick suggests they get started and moves toward his wife—but falls off the roof over a broken railing. Later, Suzanne lights candles in their bedroom for a romantic interlude. The couple kiss—but Nick is called away by noisy raccoons on their roof. When Suzanne's sudden contractions lead to a home delivery, Chuck instructs Nick over the phone to see if the baby's head is crowning. Nick lifts his wife's skirt ... and promptly passes out.

A remark about booties (for feet) is given a mild sexual twist. Nick also uses a double entendre when talking to a raccoon that has stolen his bag of corn nuts.

Suzanne lounges in bed while wearing a very low-cut, cleavage-baring top. She's seen in a nightie. And she wears a number of form-fitting shirts that accentuate her full-figured pregnant physique. Chuck is seen shirtless a couple of times.

Violent Content

Most of this film's violence is broad and cartoonish. Along with his house being systematically torn apart, Nick takes a series of pratfall tumbles: He falls from the roof and through the roof. He's shocked. He plummets down from a chandelier. And he's swarmed by hundreds of bats. (Chuck fires flares over Nick's head to scare away the attacking vermin.)

Kevin picks up a nail gun and accidentally shoots nails into the air. (A pigeon falls dead to the ground.) Nick swings a piece of mahogany trim at Chuck, who disarms him and knocks him down. Nick's kayak tips over and he comes face to face with a huge sharp-toothed fish in the lake. A ladder falls and smashes into a car window. Nick picks up a cute little chipmunk and it's snatched out of his hand by a hawk.

Crude or Profane Language

There are a half-dozen or so exclamations of God's name. Beyond that, interjections and name-calling include only such things as "idiot," "crap" and "holy moley."

Drug and Alcohol Content

Nick drinks beer in a bar and then gulps down shots of liquor when he hears that he's going to be the father of twins.

Other Negative Elements

On several occasions Lindsey and Kevin disrespect their new stepfather. And they laugh at his misfortune. Nick yells at Suzanne, "I wouldn't be stuck with this place if it wasn't for you and those ungrateful kids." (A statement he immediately regrets.) Nick has a nervous stomach and passes gas several times. A raccoon looks down on him and says, "Sucker!" The camera gives us a typical sight-gag shot of a worker's pants riding low in the back.

Conclusion

Are We Done Yet? is a sequel to 2005's Are We There Yet? This time, Nick and Suzanne are freshly married and trying to pull their still-adjusting family together in a new home. And in a way, the film itself is easily compared to that house at the center of their story.

The foundation is kind of old, being based on a 1948 Cary Grant movie called Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House. You thought I was going to say Tom Hank's 1986 house disaster flick The Money Pit, didn't you? And, indeed, the basic storyline is very familiar since it's been trotted out and nailed together in movie or TV form every couple of years—featuring the newest star of the month. This star and cast are serviceable, but nothing you'll fall in love with at first sight. And the jokes feel like they've been gathering dust in a back closet for quite a while, too.

The filmmakers tried to add a new coat of paint to the plot with the character of Chuck, a quirky local who literally changes hats with each of his areas of expertise (real estate agent, county inspector, baby-whisperer, construction chief, relationship therapist—the list goes on). But, to mix the metaphor, the color gets thin after the first few hats.

The house does have a good framework, however, firmly set in family and friendship. The film may start out with a little dry-rot (disrespectful children and skewed parental priorities), but it ends with positive choices, forgiveness and family unity—all the right structural materials. So I'll settle on saying it in a way no self-respecting realtor ever would: Are We Done Yet? isn't the envy of the entire neighborhood, but it's not trashing everybody's property values either.

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