Saturday, November 26, 2016

Movie Review: "Cheaper by the Dozen" (2003)

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Director: Shawn Levy
Year: 2003
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 38 minutes

Tom and Kate Baker (Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt) are a happily married couple with 12 kids living in Midland, Indiana. When Tom gets a job offer coaching at his Alma Mater, he and his wife decide what is best for everyone is to move the family to Evanston, Illinois where they will be more financially comfortable. The kids, however, aren't too happy about the move and leaving all of their friends and/or girlfriends behind. To make matters worse, Kate has just had her book published and must leave for a book tour, which puts her apart from the kids for the first time ever. 

"Cheaper by the Dozen" is directed by Shawn Levy and is based on the book of the same name by Frank B. Gilbreth Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey. It tells the story of Tom and Kate Baker, played by Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt, who have a dozen kids, the oldest of which is in her 20's living on her own (played by Piper Perabo). The remaining 11 living at home and range from ages 5 up to 17. When Tom gets his dream job offer, to coach football at his Alma Mater, he moves the entire family from Midland, Indiana to Evanston, Illinois, much to the chagrin of the kids. Just after the move, Kate gets her booked published and is forced to go on long, several cities-wide book tour, leaving Tom alone with 11 pissed off spoiled brats for the first time in their lives. We say spoiled brats because it would seem these kids do everything they can to make Tom and Kate's lives a living hell. The kids are clearly old enough to know better and yet offer no assistance when their mother leaves on her first ever book tour.

"Cheaper by the Dozen" is another one those churned out, awfully manufactured Hollywood films that perpetuates the idea that your own individual happiness is never important and that one must always bend to the will of their children in every possible instance. Because, you know, working AND trying to provide a comfortable life for your family is never as important as playing with the kids and spending time with them. Though Tom and Kate constantly bend over backwards for them to try and provide them normal, fruitful life, their unappreciative kids do everything they can to make their parent's lives as difficult and as miserable as possible. It's not honest, and it's not balanced, and it shows in the final product.

The film is loaded with a bunch of slapstick comedy complete void of wit and humor. There was a time when Steve Martin could balance his wittiness with an over-the-top silly style as if it were second nature to him, but it isn't here, and really, it wasn't for the entirety of the 2000's for him. There are a couple of laughs sprinkled throughout this film, but mostly its the aforementioned awful, ungrateful cretins that make "Cheaper by the Dozen" a slog to get through. Combine this with a bunch of only semi-talented youth-aged actors and you've got a recipe for mediocrity bordering on unwatchable. There's not enough substance here to make up for the constant barrage of stupid and implausible situations and terrible, humorless happenings.

My Rating: 4/10
BigJ's Rating: 4.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 5.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 24%
Do we recommend this movie: No.

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