PG for some mild language, 1 profanity and
a few discussions about mature themes)
Steve Martin, Bonnie Hunt, Hilary Duff,
Piper Perabo, Tom Welling, Ashton Kutcher
20th Century Fox
by the Dozen Official Web site
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Cheaper by the Dozen
Special Notes: Liliana Mumy plays Jessica, a cute girl
with red hair who happens to be the daughter of Billy Mumy (he was the
red headed kid from the show Lost in Space)
Plot: This is a remake of the 1950 classic about a modern couple
who do a very old fashioned thing -- they have twelve children. Mary (Hunt)
and Tom Baker (Martin) are great parents who have put their careers, hopes
and dreams on hold so that they can give their kids a balanced and parent-involved
life. Except for the eldest daughter, 22 year old Anne (Perabo), who is
out of the house and living with a selfish, self-centered boyfriend (Kutcher)
against the wishes of her parents, the rest of the family face another
dilemma. Tom gets a new coaching job at a large university in the city
so the family ends up moving to the suburbs and setting up a new life.
Mary finally finishes her book about her brood and is then whisked away
on a whirlwind book tour. With the new lifestyle demands on Mary and Tom,
the rest of the family begin to feel neglected and soon a plot is hatched
by the kids to get their parents, and their old life back.
Good: A natural recipe for fun and laughter is the pairing of
Bonnie Hunt and Steve Martin. The two never fail to bring a laugh to almost
every scene theyre in and their talents, combined with a cast of
kids of all ages, make for lots of family levity and laughs. Amongst the
kids there are a few big names in the bunch (Perabo, Welling, Kutcher,
Duff) but it was nice to see an ensemble where the feeling of family comes
through instead of star power. Kids will relate with some of the antics
the children perform on each other and adults will relate to the many
dilemmas career minded parents go through in trying to spend time with
your family. I found the crux of the Bakers problem -- not being able
to find someone to care for their kids while Tom pursued the better-paying
coaching job (that he had dreamed of doing all his life) and Mary continuing
her book tour, a bit of a stretch. Tom cant find a baby-sitter for
the younger kids and has to bring them with him to work and/or bring the
football team home with him so that the kids could be watched which of
course, ultimately jeopardizes his job. Although the scenarios are played
for laughs and the sitter-situation is what creates the problems
in the movie, I found it hard to buy. As tough as they make the daddy
day-care situation to be, it just isnt THAT hard to find baby-sitters
or help these days. And for a family that has at least three sitter
aged kids who could have pitched in and watched the kids as a team,
somehow that option of sibling-sitting was never used. (Isnt
that a side benefit of having a lot of kids? That you have built-in babysitters?)
The kids rebel against their parents career choices and Mary and
Tom are (almost) portrayed as being selfish for pursuing them and thats
where I take issue with the message of the movie. Theres a huge
difference between parents who are workaholics and climb the corporate
ladder for their own glory and gratification while neglecting their kids,
and parents needing to work at two good-paying jobs to raise their 12
kids in a nice home and neighborhood. In the end, the overall message
of the movie is a positive one about family sacrificing for the sake of
family. A message this younger generation (and parents) probably need
to hear more of! Without making blatant speeches, its clear that this
family is a religious family. Using humorous, subtle remarks like, Say
the rosary!, or when the 22 year-old daughter sneaks her boyfriend
(that shes living with) into the house overnight (nothing is shown-only
implied) Tom confronts the two with, This is a G rated house!
and scolds them for spending the night together. I enjoyed a particular
conversation between the kids involving Easter and what defines the term
resurrection. There are a few side-plots that involve; a bully
at school, one of the kids feels unloved and runs away and
Tom and the kids deal with a judgmental neighbor.
Bad: For the most part this movie is family friendly but unfortunately
there are a few crude words and a profanity thrown in (from an irate coach
who chides Tom) that ruins this otherwise wholesome movie. The kids dislike
their older sisters boyfriend (Kutcher) so theres a scene
where they play a prank on their him by placing a scent of meat on his
pants. Immediately their hungry dog makes a beeline for the meat-smelling
pants and unintentionally bites the boyfriend in the crotch. The scene
is played for laughs and is more on the funny side than rude and afterwards,
the kids are punished for their prank. And something thats not bad
but instead curious, is Hunts straight-to-curly look. Its almost
like you can tell when different scenes were shot at different times because
her hairstyle changes from straight to curly in almost the same scenes.
Bottom Line: This is a perfect family movie to see and then afterwards
talk about how your family relates (or differs) as far as values, responsibilities
and kid-dilemmas are concerned. This 'bakers dozen' never comes
up short but instead, delivers a satisfying and entertaining comedy all
ages will enjoy.
Visit Holly's Web site at http://www.hollymcclure.com.
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