Nick Persons hates kids with a passion. “Kids are like cockroaches, except you can’t squish them,” he says. He’s willing to change his mind, however, when he discovers that the cute lady who works across the street from his sports memorabilia store is a single mom. He forces himself to be tolerant of young Lindsey and Kevin for the sake of better getting to know their mom, Suzanne.
But the two youngsters are holding out hope that their divorced mom will get back together with their dad. And to that end they do their best to drive off potential suitors using pranks worthy of that Home Alone kid, e.g., paint balloons, flying tomatoes and booby-trapped sidewalks.
So when Suzanne has to travel to Vancouver, B.C., for business, and her ex is unable to supervise the kids, in steps Nick, who offers to fly with the children to Vancouver the next day so they can be with their mom. Of course, through a series of implausible circumstances, the trio misses their flight, and Plan B—taking the train—falls through as well. There’s nothing left but for Nick to drive the kids from Portland, Ore., to Vancouver.
What do you get when you put 350 miles of open road in front of two prank-happy youngsters and a man who is positively religious about the cleanliness of his car? A silly, slapstick flick that never seems to end.
The importance of marriage and the need for a reliable father come through strongly, since the split between Suzanne and her husband is what prompts Lindsey and Kevin to drive off suitors and to force the road trip into a detour toward their dad’s house. It’s at dad’s house that the lesson gets an extra kick: Lindsey and Kevin see through the front windows that dad, who was supposedly too sick to take them that weekend, is in fact enjoying the evening with his new wife and baby. Kevin says with great hurt in his voice, “He used to look at me like that.”
Nick, himself a child of divorce, is eventually able to see past his own selfishness to become a strong father-figure for the children. Despite plenty of provocation—let’s face it, the kids are royal brats—Nick eventually forgives them and goes to great lengths to reunite them with their mom.
For a good portion of the film Kevin and Lindsey are monsters who basically ruin Nick’s life, causing him to be arrested and destroying his car. Yet in the end he puts his arms around them and says they should be friends. A great sentiment. (But it's a bit lame within the context its given. Yes, forgiveness is good, but sometimes forgiveness is hard, as it should have been in this case.)
The kids’ normal babysitter, Miss Mable, is unable to take them in because she’s headed to Las Vegas with her church group. After Nick bitterly scolds the children, Lindsey sarcastically says, “Have you ever thought of becoming a youth pastor or counselor?”
In a moment of extreme frustration, Nick looks heavenward and asks, “What did I do?” Nick calls the kids “little demons.”
This is the most disappointing aspect of this PG movie. Nick drives down the street while ogling women is short skirts and tight blouses. He first spots Suzanne when a breeze blows her coat open, which, in slow motion, reveals her very low cut dress. But when Nick learns Suzanne has children, he initially dismisses her as a “breeder.”
Doubly disappointing is the role of a Jiminy Cricket, voice-of-conscience-type character. Nick is a sports memorabilia dealer, and he has a bobble-head doll of baseball great Satchel Paige on his dashboard. From time to time, “Satchel” comes alive to prod Nick into doing the right thing—except when it comes to women. Then he’s even worse than his protégé. For example, at the sight of Suzanne taking off her coat, Satchel says, “Holy moly! Hubba-hubba, now that’s a woman.” He later tells Nick that Vancouver produces more Playboy Playmates than any other city before he starts to sing the song, “I’m Just a Gigolo.”
Nick leans in to kiss Suzanne in a supermarket, but she stops him. Nick misunderstands: “What, you want to go to my apartment?” When she tells him she doesn’t think the budding romance is right because she’s a single mom, he counters, “But you’re a sexy momma.” Elsewhere, Nick and Suzanne kiss at the end of the movie. A friend teases Nick when his relationship with Suzanne goes no farther than friendship. “The ‘Friend Zone’ is for losers,” he says.
The babysitter, a 60-ish woman, tries to dissuade Nick from taking the kids to Vancouver. “Let me take you on a guided tour of Sin City [Las Vegas],” she says suggestively. Lindsey calls Nick a “dirty, horny sex man.” She says, “Mom said if a man is not married by 35, he’s either damaged or gay.” At that, Satchel jokes that that explains Nick’s earrings.
Most of the violence is of the cartoonish, slapstick variety. Kevin and Lindsey rig a contraption that flings tomatoes and paint balloons at a suitor approaching their front door. The booby trap then spills marbles on the walkway, which causes the man to fall on his backside.
Nick beans a shoplifter in the head with a basketball. Nick tries using jumper cables in the rain, and the resulting electrical shock, complete with flying sparks, throws him several feet backward. Kevin feints at kicking Nick in the crotch before slapping him in the face. Airport security guards gang-tackle Nick. Nick jumps off a moving train, missing the bin of luggage he was aiming for and crashing into the concrete platform. He falls off a moving truck onto the road. A truck stop sign falls, with part of it hitting him in the crotch. And he gets attacked by a deer; we see its hooves battering him about the head.
Kevin plays a video game in Nick’s car that features a figure killing others with a sword. Nick looses control of his car, careening off the road and down a forested hill, breaking through tree branches and bushes. Nick’s car catches fire and then explodes. Two trucks jockey for position on the road, sideswiping one another until the smaller one crashes into a collection of newspaper boxes on the sidewalk.
Nick and a truck driver get into a fight on a skating rink, pushing and shoving one another as security guards try to separate the two. The kids hit the truck driver over the head (he thinks Nick is a kidnapper and is trying to rescue them).
Drug and Alcohol Content
People sip champagne at a party.
Other Negative Elements
Lots of potty humor. The kids don’t like their babysitter because they say she’s always passing gas (they use a crude euphemism, and we hear her). The camera looks up through the dirty water of an unflushed toilet. Nick picks up Kevin so he can urinate in a sink (in a women's rest room). Startled by a woman leaving the stall, Nick turns around, causing Kevin to urinate on her. Kevin projectile vomits across the inside of Nick’s car.
Nick is materialistic and obsessed with his new Cadillac SUV, which his friend, Marty, calls “6,000 pounds of respect.” When Lindsey turns the car radio to sugary pop music, Nick puts on a 50 Cent CD, saying, “These kids are ethnically challenged.”
Kevin and Lindsey disrespect one another repeatedly—when they’re not conspiring against Nick, that is.