Cheaper By The Dozen (PG)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner09/02/2004

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 98 mins

Well-acted, watchable Hollywood comedy that pushes all the right buttons but never really hits great comic heights.

In the last 15 years, Steve Martin has had his biggest success with Father of the Bride, a remake of a 1950 comedy that originally starred Spencer Tracy. By a strange coincidence, his latest film, Cheaper By The Dozen, is also a remake of a 1950 comedy, so perhaps Martin thinks remaking 1950 comedies = box office gold.

He may well be right, as the film has already taken over 100 million at the US box office and is therefore a huge hit, meaning we should probably brace ourselves for Even Cheaper By The Two Dozen or whatever they call the sequel.

Dream Jobs Cause Chaos

Martin plays Tom Baker (no, not THAT Tom Baker), a football coach who married his high school sweetheart, Kate (Bonnie Hunt) and had twelve children, including older daughter, Nora (Piper Perabo, from Coyote Ugly) and teenagers Tom Welling (from Smallville) and Hilary Duff (The Lizzie Maguire Movie).

The flimsy plot involves Tom and Kate both being offered their dream jobs – Tom is invited to coach a successful university football team at the same time that a publisher agrees to publish Kate’s book about the family. This involves moving the entire brood to a new house in the city, and when Kate has to be away from home to publicize her book, Tom has to juggle looking after all the kids with his new job responsibilities. Naturally, family-friendly chaos ensues.

Loosely Based On A True Story

The 1950 film was based on the best-selling book by Frank B. Gilbreth Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey (two of the 12 children) about their real-life family. Their father, Frank Gilbreth, was an efficiency expert who believed a large household could be run on the same methods as an efficient production line.

However, the remake jettisons all of that in favour of making Tom comedically useless when called on to run the house (and kids) without Kate around. There’s also a tear-inducing sub-plot about one of the kids (Forrest Landis) feeling left out and unloved. Awww.

Some of the more obvious jokes fall flat (the chandelier joke is only funny the first time) but the film does have its fair share of amusing gags and set-pieces, mostly involving Ashton Kutcher as Hank, Nora’s none-too-bright, vain actor boyfriend. It’s also saved from dire mawkishness by some strong performances, particularly from Hunt (who’s always great), Landis and Tom Welling. Martin is good and gets some good lines, but his similar role in Parenthood is a lot more fun and Cheaper By The Dozen is more than likely to make you want to see Parenthood again.

In short, as family comedies go, this is nothing special, but the performances are likeable and it’s watchable enough for both kids and adults.

Film Trailer

Cheaper By The Dozen (PG)
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Content updated: 21/09/2018 12:23

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