Ice Cube has a come a long way from the profanity-spewing rapper of the 1980s and early '90s. Today he's a respected actor and filmmaker.
Having produced and starred in many films since making his debut in John Singleton's 1991 drama "Boyz 'N the Hood," Cube (his preferred moniker) has established himself as a capable and bankable performer.
Though many of his films have been violent dramas ("Higher Learning," "All About the Benjamins"), he has successfully tackled other genres, including comedy (the "Friday" franchise and the "Barbershop" movies), and action adventures ("Anaconda," "Ghosts of Mars").
With "Are We There Yet?" Cube gets family friendly. In the comedy, Cube portrays Nick, a kid-averse playboy who tries to impress Suzanne (Nia Long), a single mother, by offering to transport her kids from Portland, Ore., to Vancouver, British Columbia.
What Nick doesn't know is that Suzanne's children think no man is good enough for their mom and will do everything they can to make the trip a nightmare for him. What starts as a quick and easy delivery turns ugly as the kids concoct new ways to drive Nick crazy.
Aleisha Allen ("School of Rock") and Philip Daniel Bolden ("Johnson Family Vacation") are the pint-size troublemakers who lay waste to Nick's beloved Lincoln Navigator.
A father of four, Cube says he could relate to the unpredictability and resourcefulness of the children. As a celebrity dad, he has to exercise an extra amount of discipline and control over his children (ages 4-19) to ensure they stay grounded.
Cube thought it was time he made a movie that he could show his younger children. But the last thing he wanted to do was make a "corny" kids' movie that he himself wouldn't enjoy.
Like Nick, a sports collectibles and memorabilia dealer, Cube has a few prized possessions he has amassed over the years: a Dallas Cowboys cap signed by Emmitt Smith, a pair of sneakers signed by Shaquille O'Neal, and a jersey signed by Deion Sanders. But his favorite keepsake is a basketball signed by the legendary Julius "Dr. J" Irving. "That ain't going nowhere," he says, laughing. "I'm going to die with that in my casket."
Besides the kid-friendly story, Cube likes the underlying message his movie sends to would-be "playas." "Sometimes guys just want the girl and want to drop off the kids," he observes, "but this tells guys that [a single mom] is a package deal."
At 35, Cube has come a long way from the authority-defying persona of his early rap days. He was one of the original members of N.W.A., a group that scored big with its 1988 debut "Straight Outta Compton." Cube quit the group a year later and quickly established himself as one of rap's most talented but controversial artists. His hit albums include "Lethal Injection," "Bootlegs & B-Sides," "The Predator" and "Amerikkka's Most Wanted." His often violent and profane rhymes drew criticism as well as support for the brutal honesty of his words. Together with Mack-10 and WC he formed the group Westside Connection, whose second album, "Terrorist Threat," was released in 2003.
He continues to juggle his music and movie career. Though he has softened his rap image for movie audiences, he insists he hasn't abandoned his rap fan base and takes issue with those who have criticized the crossover of rappers into filmmaking.
Next up, he stars in the action thriller "XXX: State of the Union," the sequel to the Vin Diesel starrer "XXX." He threw himself into the action role - literally - coming home each night with cuts and bruises after insisting on doing his own stunts. "I was up to the challenge and physically ready," he says.
Looking ahead, he wants to continue to surprise audiences with different aspects of his talent. "It definitely is going to swing back to the hard-core stuff," he promises. "Whatever the project, whether action movie, family movie or music, I'm going to pour all of myself into it."