Cheaper by the Dozen (2003)
(Release Date: December 25, 2003)

Cute Family Fun! It's not Big Fish But what is?

J.C. Maçek III
The World's Greatest Critic!

In the 1950s there were quite a few of the old Sanitized Family Comedies that killed as many germs as they did entertain kids. Nothing wrong with that! In fact, it's kind of refreshing to bring a kiddo to see a revamped family fun movie like Cheaper By the Dozen once in a while in order to get that innate silly fun gene satisfied. While Cheaper By the Dozen is based on both the real lives of the Gilbreth family and the original 1950 film Cheaper by the Dozen, this Shawn Levy directed Ensemble film takes more liberties than John Ashcroft on Amphetamines and essentially makes the story a brand new product. While this could be a big minus-sign in the rating column for this film, in fact, there are a lot of laughs to be had here, and there are a lot of moments where the kids in the audience look happier than John Ashcroft with Amphetamines. It's harmless fun aimed to make kids happy, and it succeeds in that goal.

The Gilbreths, under the reshaping hands of writers Craig Titley, Sam Harper, Joel Cohen (as opposed to Joel Coen) & Alec Sokolow, have become the Bakers. Led by parental units Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt the Baker Family consists of no less than twelve children (the Baker's Dozen... get it?). When Coach Dad gets his dream job as head of the Stallion Football department at his alma mater, he uproots all twelve family members and relocates them to the beeeeeg ceeeeeteeeee where they all struggle to fit in.

Naturally, even with one kid, adjustment is a hassle... imagine 11 school-agers and one grown daughter with Ashton Freakin' Kutcher for a boyfriend! The Real fun starts when the Matriarch leaves Dad in charge of the family while she goes on tour in support of her Biography called (drumroll) "Cheaper by the Dozen!"

What follows is pretty predictable with enough silly and funny hi-jinx to keep children and even teens glued to their seat and frequently doubled over with laughter! My own 13 year old laughed like crazy which is good enough for me! There are some really funny moments here. All too frequently there is the gross-out joke or the moment only the kiddies will laugh at, but it's all in good fun. There are no "risqué" moments here, nor is there any profanity to speak of, just good, family fun, more than a skosh less sanitized than its 1950's counterpart!

Tom Welling and Hilary Duff both give strong comic performances as two of the Baker Kids, as do Eldest Daughter Piper Perabo and Bill Mumy's daughter Liliana as one of the fraternal twins. Science Fan and family outcast Forrest Landis nearly steals the show with his sympathetic and comedic turn. All the kids here are above average and make up an effectively funny family silliness.

There isn't a whole lot to complain about here. It's not exactly a Shakespeare film, but, like Kangaroo Jack it doesn't try to be. Instead this is an unpretentious and fun, if sort-of forgettable movie to bring the kidlets to. Some of the humor based on the gross gets old, and the cuteness could kill any diabetic in the audience. Fans of the original, or the book that both films are based on might be a little put off by the fact that this film shares little with its source material. This is also pretty predictable and corny at times. There are more than a few implausible moments, not the least of which surround Welling and Duff being portrayed as the kids to pick on at the new school! The point is, if you're going to bring your teenager (even the older ones will like Kutcher, Welling and Duff) or your littler kids, it's a fun film without pretension and is, let's face it, all in good fun!

Bottom line, if you're looking for a funny film to watch with the family, go for Cheaper by the Dozen. It's not the most brilliant Film since Branagh's Hamlet, but it's better than seeing Theodor Geisel raked through the coals by Hollywood again! Three Stars out of Five! If you know what you're getting in to, you're going to laugh! Then again... with the overpopulation of the planet, could this really be a good thing? Let's face it, we may be looking at a Baker Monarchy soon! One day perhaps we must all serve the Baker's Dozen as they... sorry... Ashcroft moment again! Having that many kids seems like a huge financial hindrance. It doesn't really seem like it was actually be cheaper in the dozen of this sort. The couple must have had one good savings plan to afford a dozen kids. They must have looked into cheap wedding invitations and receptions or maybe they just went right to city hall for their marriage to bind, to save on their future of endless kids. Okay, maybe that was a little too much thought into the background of these 12 times over, parents. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to buy the complete first season of My Three Sons on DVD followed by Family Affair with that loveable Buffy, and Jodie and Mr. French! Then anything with Hayley Mills!

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Cheaper by the Dozen (2003)
Reviewed by J.C. Maçek III
who is solely responsible for his own views
and for the Blah Blah Blah.... Yackity Schmackity!
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