I have to confess that I really enjoyed this movie. The Ice Cube of today is a long way removed from the gun toting, foul mouthed Ice Cube of the gang movie and hip hop culture of the early 1990s. Don't get me wrong: Boyz in the Hood is an important film, and his early rap albums are some of the best in the genre.
But in this movie, Ice Cube is downright loveable and cuddly, and he gives a refreshingly domesticated performance as Nick Persons. Nick tries to woo an attractive divorcee (Nia Long) into dating him by taking her kids on a long distance trip to Vancouver. I guess the idea is that if he can do her this favor and show that he is making an effort to bond with the children, she will receive him.
But everything that could possibly go wrong on this trip goes wrong. The kids turn out to be hellishly behaved kids, almost as bad as some of the characters that Ice Cube has played in the past, and undeniably more annoying.
The things the kids do to torture poor Nick can hardly be construed as humor in retrospect, but that is how the gags are presented. The movie turns around at the halfway point when Nick starts to love the children in spite of the fact that they are abusing him, and the kids start to love Nick in spite of the fact that he likes their mom.
Up until the movie's midway point, you can't help but wonder, "Who in the world would want anything to do with these rotten kids? Why doesn't Nick just turn around and drop them off back the house and movie on with his life?" The movie's answer is a poignant tribute to unconditional parental love.
The gags are cruel, the kids are mean, and Nick's Lincoln Navigator is destined for eternal destruction, but the movie ends up winning you over after a faltering start.