Cheaper By The Dozen

"Weak"

Cheaper By The Dozen Review


Is anybody else getting tired of doofus dad comedies? I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure I've seen every emasculating joke there could be about stereotypically incompetent men being left alone with their kids and bungling everything while their wives are away. But here comes "Cheaper by the Dozen" anyway.

A loose remake of a 1950 laffer about a huge turn-of-the-century family headed by a stern efficiency expert, this version spends its opening voice-over explaining how Tom and Kate Baker (Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt) ended up with 12 kids in this age of easy contraception before it launches into a multiple helping of the same old themes of clueless parents and kiddie chaos.

Escaped pet frogs and butt-biting dogs abound even before the plot kicks in, seeing the family move from their rural Illinois homestead to the hustle and bustle of Chicago when Dad, now a college football coach (in an abandonment of the original's most essential ingredient), is offered his dream job heading the team at his Division One alma mater.

This doesn't sit well with any of the Baker offspring -- among them a ditzy fashionista played by Hilary Duff ("Lizzie Maguire"), a mopey high school senior played by the way-too-old Tom Welling ("Smallville") and an awkward, red-headed, bespectacled outcast (newcomer Forest Landis) -- most of whom feel like hicks among hipsters in their big city schools. But the brood's brooding only gets worse when a publisher buys Mom's manuscript, a tome about their family, and she is given a contrived ultimatum: "If there's no book tour, then there's no book."

So away she goes for two weeks, and Dad is left in charge at the same time that he's becoming over-extended by the demands of his new job (apparently in Chicago college football coaches are hounded by the press as if they're Michael Jackson).

From this point on, "Cheaper by the Dozen" goes everywhere you'd expect, from chandelier-swinging to cooking disasters to barf gags to run-ins with uptight preppie neighbors to trite life lessons, all of which gets wrapped up in an impossibly neat little bundle of family warmth and harmony just before the credits roll -- but, of course, after the grown-ups get back in touch with their priorities.

Directed by Shawn Levy ("Just Married," "Big Fat Liar") and aimed more at little kids than whole families (as evidenced by the gratingly twinkly score), the picture has scattered moments of mirth, many coming at the hands of Ashton Kutcher ("That '70s Show"), who plays the universally disliked, dimwitted live-in boyfriend of the eldest daughter (Piper Perabo) who has already left the nest. A preposterous wannabe movie star who is convinced he can make it big on his meager looks alone, he's the target of all the kids' ridicule and practical jokes, and Kutcher turns the guy's exasperation into scene-stealing gold.

But most of "Cheaper" consists of variations on the same cheap ineffectual-father jokes mined for Eddie Murphy's "Daddy Day Care" last summer and every second TV sitcom from the last 20 years (and at least watching those doesn't cost you six to nine bucks a head plus popcorn).

I grant the premise that many dads probably are just as oblivious as Martin's caring but largely useless character. But with this movie I reached my tolerance level for perpetuating the myth. Even if the film were funnier, the underlying premise isn't anymore. When even Steve Martin can't find out-loud laughs in playing a dumb dad, dumb dads must be all played out.



Cheaper By The Dozen

Facts and Figures

Run time: 98 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 25th December 2003

Box Office USA: $138.5M

Box Office Worldwide: $190.2M

Budget: $40M

Distributed by: 20th Century Fox

Production compaines: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Robert Simonds Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 23%
Fresh: 26 Rotten: 87

IMDB: 5.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Tom Baker, as Kate Baker, as Nora Baker, as Charlie Baker, as Lorraine Baker, Kevin G. Schmidt as Henry Baker, as Sarah Baker, as Jake Baker, as Jessica Baker, as Kim Baker, as Mark Baker, as Mike Baker, as Nigel Baker, Brent and Shane Kinsman as Kyle Baker, as Tina Shenk, as Hank (uncredited)

Contactmusic


Links


Advertisement

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.