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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 19.19%
Just Average: 17.17%
Pretty Crappy: 22.22%
Sucks: 17.17%

5 reviews, 69 user ratings

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Cheaper by the Dozen (2003)
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by Erik Childress

"Cheap By Any Number"
2 stars

Despite evidence to the contrary, I walked into Cheaper By The Dozen with the best of intentions. It had been a while since we had seen a good “family comedy” about an actual family and after suffering through evil dreck like The Cat in the Hat, I was ready to cut this film a bit of slack. After all, it has two great comedians, Steve Martin & Bonnie Hunt, whose combined wit would make me want to see their offspring. Even the director’s last film, Just Married, ranks as a small guilty pleasure this year. Any such hopes are dashed rather early on though after a genteel, promising opening is lost to what we can see will be a humor faction dependent on disaster rather than the comedy of life.

In her new memoir, Kate Baker (Hunt) writes how her and husband Tom (Martin) met and fell in love. Their familiarity with their own large families, led them to go for the Dick Van Patten route and roll the dice on having eight children. The eighth child turned into twins, a bout of drunken amour and a few more twins later and you’ve gone right past Yo-11 and into HEY, WHOA 12.

Tom & Kate have it down to a science though as the detailed introductions to the household could show the Noonan family from Caddyshack a thing or two on how to start the day. Tom’s been offered his dream job coaching football at his alma mater and instead of thanking him for spreading his seed faster than Steve Garvey in his garden, the flock wants no part of this move.

It’s nearly impossible to give each kid his day in the characterization sun. The oldest boy (Smallville’s Tom Welling) has a girlfriend he doesn’t want to leave and is taunted at the new school for being some kind of “farm boy” out of…I guess Smallville. Lorraine (Hilary Duff) is nothing but fashion-conscious. Another girl is the scheming brain capable of riling the troops when necessary. Another boy looks like Chunk from The Goonies. Yet another boy is so helplessly made to feel like an outcast that not only should Jan Brady shut her whining mouth but we wonder if we’re witnessing a prequel to Elephant.

The eldest daughter at 22 (Piper Perabo) has already moved out to seek a life of her own (presumably because her boyfriend couldn’t sleep over.) The boyfriend (Ashton Kutchner) is such a hopeless jackass, we can never believe that his symptoms of rudeness and vanity didn’t turn her off earlier. Although, when he announces that his face is his livelihood because he can’t act, we CAN believe it because it’s Ashton Kutchner.

Soon, dad will have to play Mr. Mom when Kate must go on her first published book tour and we’re expected to believe that one day removed from the marental unit and the house will be engulfed in silly string, dart headshots and flying axes. Levy and (credited) screenwriters Joel Cohen, Sam Harper & Alec Sokolow (Three people for this. Think about it.) substitute genuine everyday conflict for falling chandeliers, rampaging frogs and exploding moonwalks. I don’t think I’ve laughed at stuff like this since Christmas Vacation back in 1989. Does anyone actually find this kind of smash-up humor and dogs-munching-on-nuts funny anymore? Or did you just laugh at the words “dogs-munching-on-nuts”? Over and over I kept thinking of how similar scenes were handled in Ron Howard’s Parenthood; scenes not that far removed and yet with a dose of truth and grace.

In any world, the question of responsibility (or lack thereof) in having 12 children should be raised. If you can make it work, as Tom & Kate seem to, more power to you. But let’s not tip the hat of normality by having the biggest shrew in the suburbs (a wasted Paula Marshall in a wasted role probably written for Sarah Silverman) make such a suggestion (the same one who later won’t help find a lost child because with 12 you’re just bound to eventually lose one anyway.) Poor Richard Jenkins gets the Jeffrey Tambor role of the boss who puts “adult time” over kids and the audience is still denied a moment where Tom sticks up for his children.

It’s hard to say for sure if Tom & Kate’s methods for raising their brethren are worthy of a book to be touted on Oprah. When the kids ask “what’s grounded?” it’s hard to believe that they’ve been saints for their natural born lives. It’s even harder to believe how a few weeks of difficulty can put a strain on a love-filled marriage that has already survived so much.

Very little is relatable to the 1950 original except for the family number and if you go in expecting to relate to the kind of everyday eccentricities that make up your family experiences, then prepare for disappointment. Shawn Levy clearly belongs to the Tom Shadyac school of direction where when you run out of the funny, bring on the sentiment. Except Levy is too blind to take advantage of the enviable talents of Martin & Hunt, using them more like straight man & woman who barely get the chance to react since nothing comical happens much. If end-credit outtakes are any barometer to your chuckle output, Cheaper by the Dozen offers perhaps the most laughless gag reel since I dry-heaved on Bringing Down the House. I’m sure there’s an audience out there for this who just need the suggestion of emotion or, dare I say it again, dogs-munching-on-nuts, to be satisfied with their nine-dollar, two-hour purchase. Personally, I’d like to see a condom placed on movies like this until they have some responsible parents in charge.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=8419&reviewer=198
originally posted: 12/25/03 00:50:13
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User Comments

12/04/11 Pamela White Remake not near as funny or endearing as the origional 3 stars
4/27/08 Totir Alexandru This was a very good comedy. I laughed a lot. 4 stars
12/29/06 Kati Truly one of the worst films ever concieved, enjoyed only by tweenies and idiots 1 stars
10/24/06 Drew G I could only hope the original was better 1 stars
10/16/06 Tiffany funny, loved this movie. Haven't seen the original. 5 stars
10/08/06 isis funny but kinda borin... 3 stars
10/02/06 Alfred Guy Well . . . my kids like it. I found it a bit lame. 3 stars
9/30/06 michael pretty fair 3 stars
9/28/06 David Pollastrini had nothing to do with the original 4 stars
8/22/06 Joe This, like "Are We There Yet?", makes me never want to have any kids, let alone 12 of 'em. 1 stars
4/28/06 sahm Terrible ending. Dad gives up dream for bratty kids. 2 stars
4/07/06 Frank Rountree A good film for watching with your family 3 stars
3/27/06 Brian Meyer The "too many kids" thing went out with "The Little Rascals". The T.V. Show. 1 stars
2/05/06 Anthony Feor A very good family film 4 stars
9/17/05 tony The Best film ever! 5 stars
8/17/05 ES Are we really supposed to believe that a set of parents with 12 kids looks that good? 2 stars
7/07/05 Katelyn it was a very good movie 4 stars
5/28/05 Jake Unrealistic garbage! All the kids are steryotypical Brats! Terrible! 1 stars
5/08/05 aery totally ausome 5 stars
4/27/05 Dan Pretty good 4 stars
2/21/05 xxplosive You know what your going to get with this movie, and it is good to watch with kids. 3 stars
1/29/05 gina Good family movie. Especially to teach a valuable point! 5 stars
12/16/04 Brent I will never watch another Steve Martin movie ever again 1 stars
11/01/04 NATASHA I thougth this film deserved 4 stras it was witty modern classsic comedy with quite a few b 5 stars
9/13/04 Cobretti A group of selfish, bratty kids combined with slapstick nonsense and zero laughs. AVOID!!! 1 stars
8/03/04 Katie This movie is good, and the cast is great! I love the little twins, they're SO cute! 4 stars
5/31/04 Nobody Does not deserve title;is nothing like book. Duff is evil. 2 stars
5/19/04 Jorge The family have 12 kid and just with dad,while the mother leave.Briliant! 2 stars
5/19/04 Samuel If your older than 10 you wont enjoy it. 1 stars
5/17/04 Idiot's Mouth Yet another movie that requires complete stupidity in order to work. Crap! 1 stars
5/15/04 Jenny Tullwartz C'mon, EricDSnider, gimme fart humor over dog-almost-bites-off-genitalia "humor" any day! 3 stars
5/12/04 David Very charming and heartwarming, and funny as well. 5 stars
5/04/04 Zonia Duenas This movie is the best I just love all the actors 5 stars
5/01/04 Natasha Caminero I loved it and I love you Jacob Smith 5 stars
4/29/04 jessica it's one of the best movies i've seen. my friends all love it too. 5 stars
4/24/04 Carla hilarious, few round characters, but how could you manage that with 12 main characters? 5 stars
4/18/04 Don't want fart humor, Eric? Gimme a break! It's got the fabulous Hilary Duff! 'Twould be awesome if she farted! 3 stars
4/17/04 Jake I Hate Hillary Duff so very much, and Steve Martin should be very ashmed of himeslf 1 stars
4/17/04 Gobsmack It's KA-RAZY! But it's not at all FUH-UNNY! Martin can do so much better. 1 stars
4/13/04 Chris I thought it was one of the best family films ever! Bonnie Hunt is so great, watch her show 5 stars
3/25/04 Alfred Guy OK. But isn't Steve Martin trying too hard? 3 stars
3/23/04 Harlan Since it is about the Baker family, shouldn't there be a Baker's dozen? 4 stars
3/22/04 So you didn't like Hilary Duff's performance, Eric? Even so, Hilary's such a sight for sore eyes, I'll forgive her for almost anything! 4 stars
3/21/04 Tiffany Faye Hawthorne C'mon, EricDSnider, give me fart humor over dog-almost-bites-off-genitalia humor any day! 3 stars
3/20/04 Jenny Tullwartz (I the F_CK write some of them) Can't decide between being comedy or morality play; comedy parts often good. 4 stars
3/10/04 thejames Who the F_CK writes these other comments?? 1 stars
3/07/04 movieguy a great film 5 stars
1/26/04 emily it was way funnt and i would go and see it again anytime 5 stars
1/19/04 Brian Herrick this movie sucks if your not into the inmature slapstick type humor. Poor steve martin. 1 stars
1/19/04 Jordan Booth and kate Fox We think that the movie is really great! By the way where did Alyson get the frog hat? 5 stars
1/19/04 ayley Its cool 5 stars
1/18/04 Kitty B. i luv steve martin!!! 5 stars
1/14/04 Betty White Like an episode of "The Brady Bunch"....only worse. 1 stars
1/11/04 Ashley Crider It Was Asome I Like Hilary Duff 5 stars
1/10/04 Lauren Jake on the film is sooo darn cute! 5 stars
1/10/04 Natalie Salata It was great. But it could have been better. 4 stars
1/09/04 Mark H-V Hillary did so good as her character 5 stars
1/08/04 maniac magge that move was de bomb 5 stars
1/07/04 kick ass of dont come home hilary duff is britney spears lezbian lover 1 stars
1/05/04 monica a good film 4 stars
1/03/04 Aurelia this movie was really funny!! piper rocks!! www.piperabo.com 5 stars
1/02/04 Nick Perhaps the worst movie I had seen in a long time. Why did I HATE it? a dozon reasons 1 stars
12/30/03 movieboy Good Movie thought it was Funny wouldn't have been as good though without Bonnie Hunt 4 stars
12/29/03 I saw it Come on, buster! Why are you so uptight? What were you expecting, "King Lear?" Hysterical. 3 stars
12/27/03 robin sooooooo good!!! 5 stars
12/27/03 Boombah Baby Lame remake with nothing new on offer 1 stars
12/26/03 Two-G - horror_blood2 (aka Double G) (1 G) Hillary make me horny!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
12/24/03 Secondcousinofbonnie This is a well-acted and wittily written movie (but I am a tad biased) 5 stars
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  25-Dec-2003 (PG)
  DVD: 06-Apr-2004



Directed by
  Shawn Levy

Written by
  Craig Titley
  Sam Harper

  Steve Martin
  Bonnie Hunt
  Ashton Kutcher
  Hilary Duff
  Piper Perabo
  Missy Elliott

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