Yours, Mine & Ours (2005)Reviewed By Peter Sobczynski
Posted 11/23/05 00:18:40
If you have seen the trailers and commercials for the wacky-but-heartwarming family comedy “Yours, Mine and Ours”–and if you have gone to the movies in the last few months, it seems as if you were guaranteed to see either the trailer for that or “Rent”–you have no doubt surmised that it is little more than 88 minutes of screaming kids, violent pratfalls, icky sentiment and numerous scenes of Dennis Quaid falling face-first into a variety of icky fluids. Well, having seen the film, I am here to tell you that the film not only meets those expectations, it actually exceeds them in ways that boggle the mind. This is a monstrosity that will serve as a low point in the careers of practically everyone involved with it–a not-inconsiderable statement when you realize that it features the stars of “Jaws 3-D” and “Lethal Weapon 4" and the director of “Big Momma’s House” and the “Scooby-Doo” films.Quaid stars as Frank Beardsley, a widowed Coast Guard officer who moves his brood of eight kids and a lush housekeeper (Linda Hunt) from base to base while pursuing his dream to one day become the top man. As the film opens, Frank and his family have arrived in his hometown so that he can take charge of the local academy. While out on a blind date one night, he runs into Helen (Rene Russo), an old high-school girlfriend who stayed in town and has become the local free-spirited hippie. Helen, we have learned, has two things in common with Frank–a dead spouse and a house filled with ten kids(six of them are adopted since any person who gives birth to ten kids is more likely to look like Rene Clair than Rene Russo)–but while Frank runs his house with military precision, Helen lets her charges run around with wild abandon in an effort to let them be themselves. (What that has to do with the enormous pig that runs around the house is a question that someone else will have to answer.) The two meet up again at a class reunion a few days later and when they confess the sheer volume of their respective issue, they each find it so delightful that they do the only thing possibly imaginable–they get married that very night, an action that sounds somewhat unlikely behavior for a career military man, but I digress.
Eventually, the wildly self-absorbed couple get around to telling their kids that their bathroom time has just been radically shortened. Not surprisingly, the kids aren’t especially thrilled with this sudden news (“When you were assigned to Guam, there was at least an e-mail!”) and are even less happy when they all move under the same roof and find that their differing backgrounds make them less than compatible (Quaid’s eldest daughter is a bubblehead cheerleader while Russo’s is a bubblehead riot grrl). At first, they squabble amongst themselves but they eventually decide to band together against the common enemy that is their parents–by pushing their respective buttons (Frank does like Helen’s lack of discipline while Helen feels the same about his need for control), they hope to split them up for good and return things to the way they were. Eventually, messes are made, tears are shed, lessons are learned and everyone lives happily ever after–except for the poor suckers in the audience.
Those of you with longer memories will recall that “Yours, Mine and Ours” is actually a remake of a 1968 film starring Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball. I’ve never seen that film before but I am going to go out on a limb and guess that this version has little in common with the original other than the title and the basic premise–somehow, I just can’t see Henry Fonda falling into a wading pool filled with viscous green slime that has been inexplicably left in an aisle in Home Depot (possibly as a reminder that Nickelodeon is one of the producers) or Lucille Ball dealing with a pre-teen Gaysian son with a flair for interior decorating. Instead, it seems as if the film took most of its inspiration from the recent hit remake of the similar “Cheaper By the Dozen.” That film was pretty atrocious and this one falls into most of the same traps. The blend of sadistic slapstick and sloppy sentiment is gruesome to behold and the usually reliable Quaid and Russo spend most of their time looking embarrassed at the things that they are being asked to do. (The only one who doesn’t come off too horribly is Rip Torn, who kicks in another one of those scene-stealing cameos that he has turned into a cottage industry for himself.)
As for the kids, there are so many of them and they are all so bland and boring (about half of them get but a single personality trait and the rest don’t even rank that) that the only ones who make any impression are the ones whom viewers have seen before in earlier films–you may remember Danielle Panabaker as the sweet, tree-hugging heroine-in-training in “Sky High” and Miranda Cosgrove as the know-it-all girl in “School of Rock.” Coincidentally, those are just two of the literally hundreds of titles that you would be better off watching with your family this weekend instead of this.In the interests of full disclosure, I must admit that I laughed exactly twice during “Yours, Mine and Ours,” a film which is technically supposed to be a comedy. The first came right at the start when the film opened with no less than four corporate logos representing the various studios involved with its production. The second came towards the end with a camera shot that is set up in such a way that the scene uncannily resembles a fifth logo. Believe me, if “Yours, Mine and Ours” were nothing more than an 88-minute compilation of corporate logos, we’d all be a lot better off from an entertainment perspective.
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