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

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

An unusually realistic teen movie, this drama gets deep under the skin of its characters,...

Bleed for This Movie Review

Bleed for This Movie Review

This is such a ripping true story that it can't help but grab hold of...

Moana Movie Review

Moana Movie Review

In a clear echo of Frozen, this Disney animated adventure centres on a fiercely independent...

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

The 2003 comedy Bad Santa is a holiday classic that skilfully mixes gross-out humour with...

Allied Movie Review

Allied Movie Review

There's a terrific script at the heart of this World War II thriller, with a...

A United Kingdom Movie Review

A United Kingdom Movie Review

Based on a powerful true story from the late 1940s, this drama is packed with...

Indignation Movie Review

Indignation Movie Review

Philip Roth's layered novels are a challenge for filmmakers (see also 2003's The Human Stain...

Advertisement
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

It's been five years since the last Harry Potter movie, and J.K. Rowling has been...

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Yet another bonkers thriller starring Nicolas Cage, this trashy crime comedy comes from director Paul...

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

"Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall" is a DVD...

Arrival Movie Review

Arrival Movie Review

This sci-fi drama has an enjoyably brain-bending plot that leaves the audience almost stunned with...

Elle Movie Review

Elle Movie Review

There's a boldly comical tone to this outrageous thriller that can't help but unnerve audiences...

100 Streets Movie Review

100 Streets Movie Review

A multi-strand drama set in London, this film is very nicely shot and acted, but...

Nocturnal Animals Movie Review

Nocturnal Animals Movie Review

It's been seven years since designer Tom Ford made a splash with his award-winning writing-directing...

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.