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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I have resisted watching this film for a long time; I remember cringing
when watching Steve Martin in the remake of 'Father of the Bride' and
did not wish to see an actor, I enjoy, suffering so again. Well this
also was not a patch on the original, but that said there was nothing
wrong with Steve Martin's performance; he does well with the material
as indeed do all the performers. In fact this is well directed, and a
fine film technically: it is just that the script is unbelievably awful
(warning there may be slight spoilers):-
This is a film about family values, yet it has been written by people who clearly don't understand family values. There is no family spirit; no feeling that, with the exception of the parents, any of the family members cares about anyone but themselves. Of course children can be selfish; of course families have off-days; but at the end of it all they pull together, that's what it means to be part of a family. This family didn't pull together; it was self destructive to an absurd degree. I come from a big family I have a big family and one thing I know, as does anyone who is or has been part of a big family, is that big families need discipline. When you have more children than you have hands, you have to know that your children will do what they are told when it matters: this is fundamental it is simple survival. The major calamities, the scenes of complete mayhem, these at least rang true, but where was the aftermath: the parents seemed to accept it as there lot to be the butt of their children's nasty pranks. I don't mean to be overtly moral, but for this film to have worked it needed to have a moral backbone, there needed to be a demonstrable upside to helping each other and a realisation that when hurt was done, that this was bad: unfortunately this was missing even to the point that we, the audience, were meant to think it funny that one of the children was nicknamed Fed Ex to signify that he did not fit in. The first time it was sort of funny, but when it kept happening and was not challenged it became unpleasant. At least here there was a consequence, but there was no acceptance of guilt on the part of the main perpetrator and there was no evident remorse.
If you watch this film, I am sure there are odd moments of high comedy that will appeal, but, unfortunately, that is probably all. There is no pathos, no feel-good emotional payoff. The ending is deeply disappointing. The parents give up. All they needed was for the children to help for two weeks, but that was too much for this loveless family, so the parents give up their dreams, and accept the easy course. What sort of lesson is this? If threatened with difficulty, if the right thing to do is too hard Give up! This film does not have a nice message. I find it deeply worrying that there are so many favourable reviews. On reading some of these I am relieved to find that their authors, clearly, took other things from this film; who knows, they may be right, perhaps I have misinterpreted the content. There are others, however, who seem to have read the same message as I, but see no wrong in it: this I find disturbing!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When Ashton Kutcher is the funniest thing in your movie, it's time to
re-assess everything you hold dear.
An unworthy, implausible remake of the 1950 film, Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt unconvincingly helm a hornet's nest of selfish, ill-mannered, impertinent teen and sub-teen models in an ostensible "family comedy" which illustrates quite conclusively why some animals eat their young.
Focus groups are quick to finger "obvious" causes for juvenile derailment (video games, violent cartoons, Ozzy Osbourne), yet subversive media of this ilk - insidiously promoting the now-staple Hollywood formula of incompetent-dad-tenaciously-grounded-mom, sending messages of ignorance triumphing over experience, emotions triumphing over pragmatism - is the real black-milk teat behind every school shooting and heavy metal suicide.
The MPAA trip over their bibles to quash one-second visuals of female nipples, then permit ninety minutes of mental and physical terrorizing of a father by his children (through communal pouting and "precious" antics), forcing him to relinquish the dream job he needed in order to keep these selfsame devil-children wallowing in the opulence they have been spoiled into believing is their inalienable right all for the petty sake of lost frogs and puppy love and hovel living.
When a child goes bad, truly, it is the parents' fault - for allowing movies like these to logjam our cinemas under the guise of "inoffensive, family-oriented entertainment"!
(Movie Maniacs, visit: www.poffysmoviemania.com)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Let's see here. We have 2 parents who have 12 kids...naturally this
means that the kids will automatically run everything, get their own
way, and their parents will have no control in everything.
See dad. See dad get the job he's been dreaming about which means a nice raise, a better house in a better neighborhood, and a means to better provide for his 14 member household. Of course, this can't be good and the kids will do everything in their power to end this.
See mom. See mom get a fabulous book deal, pursue a career of her own (temporarily, it was ONLY A 2 WEEK BOOK TOUR!!!), get a shot at being on Oprah, and really live out her dreams. Of course, this can't be good and the kids will do everything in their power to end this.
Every chance possible, the parents bend over backward to help the kids out. The dad even has his football team practice at his house, cuts press conferences short, blows off his Athletic Director, works his everliving tail off...all for nothing. The kids still rebel, sneak out of the house, abuse the eldest daughter's boyfriend, and consistently start fights, wreak havoc, and do NOTHING to help out in any way.
The "dozen" kids consist actually "nine" kids. Of the remaining three, one lives COMPLETELY ON HER OWN and two are in high school. The eldest son does nothing but brood and sulk and the eldest "in house" daughter (Hillary Duff) is barely on screen long enough to contribute. Why can't they help out at least once? To sum up the movie, dad gives up dream job, mom quits book tour early and blows the Oprah shot, and at the end of the movie, and the kids are STILL at the house they hate, in the neighborhood they hate, going to the schools they hate...but they all seem happier somehow. *Sigh* When will Hollywood make good movies again?
And the moral is........what's good for the parents must be stopped by the kids at any cost.
Tom (Steve Martin) and Kate Baker (Bonnie Hunt) have a Baker's
dozen--children, that is. When Tom, a football coach, gets a job offer
to coach a college football team just outside of Chicago, and Kate's
book about raising 12 children finally gets a publishing offer, they
see bright things for their future. The only problem is that their 12
children do not want to move from their rural Illinois home, and things
become nearly disastrous when Kate has to leave for a couple weeks to
promote her book.
While I didn't enjoy Cheaper By The Dozen as much as the original version of the film from 1950, the 2003 "re-imagining" is still a 9 out of 10 for me (the original was a 10 out of 10 for me). It's a re-imagining rather than a remake because although the overall plot arc has some similarities, these are two very different films, with very different messages, and very different kinds of families. Both are rather cartoonish, which works for me--I don't require much realism in my films. For anyone who is looking for something primarily believable, Cheaper By The Dozen may not fit the bill.
The major change from the original to the new film is a change from control to near-chaos. In the Baker's case, it doesn't take long to realize that the chaos arises from their lack of disciplining their children. While this may not be realistic (surely anyone planning to have a family this large would realize that discipline and control would be necessary to not have one's home destroyed), it does lead to a lot of comic situations, and that's really the point here. Yes, there is a message in the end about putting family first, but what director Shawn Levy really wants you to do is laugh. My wife and I laughed quite a bit while watching the film, so Levy accomplished his goal with us. My only slight complaint on this end was that some of the funniest material involved the eldest Baker daughter's boyfriend, Hank (Ashton Kutcher), and he just wasn't in the film enough. The material about the Shenk's, neighbors of the Baker's, was also funny and a bit underused. This was the reason for lowering my score 1 point.
The rest of the cast is good, although like the original Cheaper By The Dozen, we barely get to know some of the children, but that's understandable when we have to deal with 14 characters as well as ancillary characters. Steve Martin was excellent, as always (I enjoy his work in even his less popularly appreciated films), and although Hilary Duff (as daughter Lorraine Baker) seemed a bit odd in the context of the family, I enjoyed her performance a lot, also. There's something about her that I like, and it's not just her looks.
While the CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN opening titles credit the authors of the
best-selling book the original 1950 film was based on (Frank B.
Gilbreth Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey), don't expect to see a
remake of the charming, early-20th century comedy about two efficiency
experts (Clifton Webb and Myrna Loy) running a complex but happy
family...and this is not a BAD thing!
While the 1950 production is a minor classic, the thrust of the earlier film was with the parents, and oldest daughter (the late Jeanne Crain). Clifton Webb was a gifted, acerbic actor, best known, previously, as 'child hating' author Lynn Belvedere, who proved he was as adept at raising children as he was at EVERYTHING he attempted, in the 1948 hit, SITTING PRETTY. The film was such a success that two sequels were made, and Webb would do several more 'family' comedies before his death in 1966. Playing Frank Bunker Gilbreth, the father of twelve, was a 'natural' for the actor, and the 61-year old Webb 'stole' the film with his self-effacing, 'scientific' approach to child rearing. As his wife, Lillian, Myrna Loy, who had graduated from being 'Nora Charles' in the "Thin Man" series, to being Hollywood's favorite wife/mom, shared Bonnie Hunt's sweetness, sense of organization, and dry humor, but lacked a sexual chemistry with Webb that would have actually produced twelve children (perhaps because of the less 'permissive' time the film was made, or perhaps because of Webb's screen persona). Jeanne Crain, one of 20th Century Fox's favorite ingénues for over six years, had a large fan base, which the studio capitalized on (She was actually second-billed in the film, behind Webb). Her scene at a 1920's prom, with Webb as her 'date', is a film highlight. While the eleven other children were given 'moments' in the film, they barely registered, individually.
Would 2003 audiences have gone to see Martin in a period comedy set eighty years earlier? I doubt it. And had the original story had been simply 'updated', would it have been truly faithful to the source, even in spirit? Unlikely, as so much has changed over the years. Ultimately, the film makers erred, I believe, in using the title of the earlier film, but not in the approach of making a 'family-friendly' comedy about a household of massive proportions.
With Steve Martin, who has become Hollywood's quintessential 'Dad', as a loving, unconventional father/football coach given an opportunity to head his alma mater's team, he displays the same kind of sensitivity that made PARENTHOOD such a wonderful film. Bonnie Hunt, as his wife, is completely believable as a successful author who could handle her large family and still-frisky husband equally well. She is, as always, a treasure!
The children are really the stars of the film, though, and each is special, and individual, from the eldest daughter (Piper Perabo), who, at 22, wants the family to accept the guy she's living with (Ashton Kutcher, in a funny, brief role), to the youngest pair of twins (Brent and Shane Kinsman), who make an art out of wreaking havoc. Tom Welling is quite likable, and proves that he is more than just 'Clark Kent' (For you trivia fans, Kutcher almost got the part of 'Superman' in an upcoming film, which would have put two 'Men of Steel' in the cast). The only discordant note is Hillary Duff's annoyingly brittle second daughter; she may be a 'teen idol', but she is more grating than endearing.
Director Shawn Levy's previous film, JUST MARRIED, was a loud, unpleasant, clichéd bore; in CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN, he redeems himself with a more enjoyable, richer film.
While the movie will never earn the 'classic' status the earlier film achieved, it stands very well on it's own merits!
A fairly amusing family comedy, with almost no relation to the book or the earlier film with this title. Steve Martin plays the father of the group of 12 kids who uproots them all to move to the big city where a football coaching job awaits.. suddenly the mom (an amusingly bemused Bonnie Hunt) gets called away on a book tour and dad has to raise all the kids himself. Interesting casting has Piper Perabo (star of the gloriously underrated "Coyote Ugly") as the oldest daughter, Hillary Duff as the teenage daughter, Tom Welling (of TV's "Smallville") as the oldest son and Ashton Kutcher taking an unbilled role as Piper's live-in boyfriend.. and poking fun at himself in the process. The rest of the kids are mostly of the unknown but cute variety,... and the kids get most of the laughs with their various schemes and screw ups along with Martin's reactions to it all. The ending drags a bit as things start to get serious and the family is on the verge of falling apart, but as long as it sticks to the pratfalls the film can be very amusing. GRADE: B
Let's see if this film has all the necessaries of a modern film.
1) Classic title 2) Dad is an idiot 3) New script bearing no resemblance to the original. 4) Male lead cannot droll without instructions from female 5) Children are out of control 6) The man is incurably stupid 7) Mother is a wise saint 8) Father has no clue about his own home (have I covered that already??) 9) Large families result from irresponsibility
I saw and loved the original. I held no illusions that this would be nearly as good. In fact I knew it would require some updates. The world of the 1950s when the original was made and the 1920s when it was set are dramatically different.
The story is weak, the comedy is poor, the new plot is bigoted.
In the original, Clifton Webb play an efficiency expert Frank Gilbreth. In fact, Frank Gilbreth's principles are still taught in course on efficiency in industry. He was a real person. And a competent one. His son John Kenneth Gilbreth, went on to become one of the world's leading economists. To this very day.
In this one, Frank Baker (Baker's dozen ... get it? Hit me over the head with a joke why doncha?) is a small time football coach who is so inefficient that he can't get breakfast on the table and wipe up a spill at the same time. And it's hard to imagine his wanna be drop out son becoming anything but a bum.
The scene from the original where the woman from Planned Parenthood came to the door to humorous results was morphed into the yuppy neighbors, the Shenks, essentially scolding anyone who has or wants more than two kids. Tina is so obsessed with having only one that Bill is portray as sexually frustrated ... he ain't getting none lest she conceive again.
I grew up in a family of 13. While my Dad was not the modern hands on type, he was aware of where things were and how things worked. He could cook and do the laundry and get us off to school on time. And he worked hard to be able to pay for us all to go to Catholic school. He had to be efficient; every 18 months or so, Mom was squeezing out another sib.
We were well behaved. We had to be. If not, 13 children turn into the unruly mob shown in this stupid film. I knew other families like ours. From nine to fifteen kids. They were all self disciplined families. I cannot tell you how many people, my sister-in-law included, who have asked me if it was "that way in your house." People came out of this movie thinking that large families are rude and out of control.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'm sorry but this movie get's on my last nerve. It's not funny or witty, and it's incredibly cliché. The children are complete brats with smart mouths and we are supposed to think it's funny. I cannot believe they are making a sequel to this. And I cannot believe two hours of my life were wasted watching this repulsive film. I have watched some AWFUL films, but I can always find at least one nice thing to say about them. Butfor this movie, I cannot even think of one. My mind wandered the entire time I was watching it, and I couldn't help thinking "I paid 10$ for this???! Honestly I really doubt even the youngest of children would find this film entertaining. 1/10, but if I could I would give it a zero. Thumbs down for Cheaper By The Dozen.
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.
As a child, I read and loved the book, "Cheaper by the dozen", so I rented
the movie expecting an on-screen adaptation of the book. I think the only
similarities are the title, and the fact that they have 12 kids. The
does the book a huge injustice.
Expectations aside, the movie had some plot holes, but I would have appreciated this kind of film if I was a parent looking for a family film. It reminded me of the old Disney classics my family rented when I was growing up. I'm sure that kids would love the mess and destruction that seemed to be the focal point of the movie. They tried to cram too many sub-plots into it when they could have focused strictly on the family dynamics and had a great movie.
I'm just glad I rented it and didn't spend $$ at the theater.
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