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The Bakers, a family of 14, move from small-town Illinois to the big city after Tom Baker gets his dream job to coach his alma mater's football team. Meanwhile, his wife also gets her dream of getting her book published. While she's away promoting the book, Tom has a hard time keeping the house in order while at the same time coaching his football team, as the once happy family starts falling apart. Written by
When Kate tells Kyle and Nigel they have a dentist appointment during the breakfast scene, the twins start making strange sounds at Tom. While they are doing this, Charlie moves from the stove to the bench behind the twins. When it cuts to a close-up of Kyle and Nigel, Charlie has instantly vanished, and is back standing at the stove next to Tom. See more »
There is some resemblance to the original movie in this film (as well as some elements borrowed from the sequel "Belles on their Toes"). The writers did include various ideas such as the move for the father's job, the family council, the father being offered the opportunity of his dreams, the father being a somewhat eccentric and unusual character, the mother being the calm one, etc. It also borrows just as much from sixties family comedies such as "Yours, Mine, and Ours" (i.e. the son that feels left out in the family group, the older brother who give "cool" advice to the younger ones, the kids trying to "sabotage" various events, etc.).
This version lacks something that the original one had. The original moved along with the pace of the changes in the family's life as normal life does. It also seemed to capture better the idea of trying to raise such a large group of children and the sacrifices and choices one has to make. There is also some semblance of what it is like to be a child in this family by keeping that focus on only one of the children, while still giving us glimpses of what the other ones are like.
The film, however, seemed to be more of a showcase for the comedic talents of Steven Martin than anything else. It also didn't move along in the same way that the original making the story somewhat unsatisfying.
Frank Gilbreth never lost the idea that his family was the most important thing where as Steve Martin's character has to be brought back into the fold. It is understandable that he would want something for himself, but to get him to the point where he sees his children as a burden and a liability is a problem. Thankfully in the end he comes back to being a part of his family, but the fact that he had to be causes the story to loose some of its charm.
The thing that made Frank and Ernestine Gilbreth want to write about their family was the joy that they knew in living in it despite the trials and tribulations. In this version of their story the joy seems to be lost and has to be recaptured. The director and writer are lucky enough that at least a little bit does.
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