Ice Cube began his career with the group N.W.A., which helped popularize gangster rap, and his early films as an actor, like 1991’s Boyz n the Hood and 1995’s Friday helped the rapper/actor keep up his tough-guy demeanor. But in 2005, Ice Cube broke into family comedies with Are We There Yet?, which he produced and starred in. Now, Are We There Yet? is on Netflix, and has been in Netflix’s top 10 most-watched for over a week.
By the time Are We There Yet? came out in 2005, Ice Cube was already softening his image. Films like 2000’s Next Friday and 2002’s Friday After Next took the series Ice Cube has created and turned it into more of a goofy comedy trilogy. In 2002, Cube also starred in All About the Benjamins and Barbershop, a charming series that would receive sequels like 2004’s Barbershop 2: Back in Business, 2016’s Barbershop: The Next Cut, and the Queen Latifah-starring spinoff, Beauty Shop in 2005.
But Are We There Yet? was Ice Cube’s break into films for a younger audience. In the film, Ice Cube plays Nick, a bachelor who meets Suzanne Kingston (Nia Long), the woman of his dreams. Nick has never liked kids, but when Suzanne’s work keeps her in Vancouver for New Year’s Eve, and her ex-husband unable to watch the kids, Nick offers to drive Suzanne’s kids from Portland, Oregon to Vancouver. The two kids Lindsey and Kevin, played by Aleisha Allen and Philip Bolden, respectively, sabotage their mother’s relationships, so this road trip to Vancouver is Nick’s absolute nightmare.
While Ice Cube has certainly been in plenty of films by the release of Are We There Yet?, the film was one of the actor’s first opportunities to prove he could be a leading man in more family-friendly films. The film opened at #1 in the United States, made over $97 million worldwide, and turned Are We There Yet? into a franchise. The sequel, 2007’s Are We Done Yet? was a loose update of the 1948 classic Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House starring Cary Grant. Are We Done Yet? opened at #3 in the United States, and only made a little over $58 million worldwide.
However, this wasn’t the end of the series, as Ice Cube would go on to create the series Are We There Yet?, which ran on TBS for three seasons from 2010 to 2013. Taking on the role of Nick for the series was Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s Terry Crews, although Cube did occasionally appear as Terrence, Nick’s brother-in-law.
After the success of Are We There Yet?, Ice Cube went on to become more well-known for his comedic performances. Cube would star alongside Katt Williams and Tracy Morgan in 2008’s First Sunday, and another family film, The Longshots. In 2012, Cube would play Captain Dickson in 21 Jump Street, followed by a larger role in 2014’s 22 Jump Street, the highest-grossing film of his career. Cube would also co-star with Kevin Hart in 2014’s Ride Along and 2016’s Ride Along 2, and would headline the 2017 comedy, Fist Fight.
Critics didn’t tend to like Are We There Yet?, as the film currently has a 12% on Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer, and a 45% audience score with over 250,000 ratings. Nathan Rabin of The AV Club said the film “all too effectively convey the claustrophobic horror of being shackled in a small space with two whiny, hateful children,” while Scott Foundas of Variety said it was “a joyless road-trip comedy that’s about as pleasant as a bad case of car sickness.” Yet Are We There Yet? was enough of a success to bring forth a sequel, a television series, and remain one of the most popular films on Netflix for the last week.
Most recently, Ice Cube was the comedic relief in 2020’s The High Note, and he will next appear in the sports biopic Flint Strong alongside Ryan Destiny and Judy Greer. Ice Cube has also supposedly finished writing the fourth installment of the Friday series, entitled Last Friday. However, with the death of John Witherspoon in 2019, Cube has said that the project is currently on hold, although he hopes to get the project back on track in the future.
But Are We There Yet? was the project that showed Ice Cube could do family-friendly comedies, and since the film’s release, Cube has become a prominent part of many comedy franchises, including the 21 Jump Street and Ride Along series. With Are We There Yet? now extremely popular on Netflix, there’s no better time to see one of Ice Cube’s most successful comedies.