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3 reviews, 12 user ratings

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Cheaper by the Dozen 2
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by Peter Sobczynski

"C'mon Piper, are you trying to break my heart on purpose?"
1 stars

Every Christmas, some consumer-safety board comes out with a list of the most dangerous new toys so that families can be warned of the dangers of Jarts or Jumbo Bag O’Glass Shards or the Edward R. Murrow action figure (with fun chain-smoking action). If that group came out with a similar list of movies that parents should shield their tykes from, “Cheaper By the Dozen 2" would probably appear just below “Wolf Creek” or “Hostel.” Granted, it is technically suitable for the wee ones–there is no violence other than the occasional slam in the crotch and the closest thing to sexuality is a couple of close-ups of Carmen Electra’s cleavage that seem to have been included only as a token gift to the fathers in the audience. No, what is dangerous is that it is utterly bereft of anything resembling wit, style or imagination–the very things that a movie aimed at children should contain . Instead, it is a cynically conceived dead bulb of a film that has no reason to exist other than the fact that the 2003 original inexplicably made a ton of money.

As the film opens, the Baker clan–father Tom (Steve Martin), mother Kate (Bonnie Hunt) and 12 children–is at a crossroads. Eldest daughter Nora (Piper Perabo) is now married and pregnant, eldest son Charlie (Tom Welling) is working in a garage and daughter Lorraine (Hilary Duff) has graduated from high school and is now looking for apartments in New York. (Apparently she is saving for the down payment by cutting such non-essentials as food–she looks her as if her summer internship is at Dachau instead of “Allure.”) In an effort to bring back the family spirit one last time, Tom decides that they will spend the last week of summer on vacation on the banks of Lake Winnetka in Wisconsin. I am sure you will be shocked to learn that when they arrive at their rental house, it is run-down and contains a mischievous mouse that will inspire numerous bits of lame physical comedy.

No sooner have they settled in do they realize that their neighbors across the lake are the Murtaughs, a seemingly perfect clan consisting of a snotty and stern father (Eugene Levy), his trophy wife (Electra) and his own posse of eight kids. While the kids all get along swimmingly–Charlie starts flirting with the oldest daughter (Jaime King) while one of the younger Baker daughters gets her first crush on one of the sons–the two dads find themselves locked in what seems to be a lifelong competition and spend their time constantly trying to one-up each other. I am sure you will be shocked to learn that it all ends with a massive sporting competition between the two clans, a few valuable lessons learned, many painful pratfalls, a couple of noble speeches about the importance of family and teamwork and Nora’s water breaking at an exceptionally awkward time.

As profoundly square as any movie released in 2005, “Cheaper By the Dozen 2" is so banal that it plays like one of those dreadful mid-70's Disney live-action films–the kind that usually featured either a place-kicking mule, Bob Crane or both. However, not even a place-kicking mule could begin to perk up the proceedings here. This is a film so out-of-touch that the fact that the elder Murtaugh daughter has a secret tattoo that she fears that Dad will discover is actually treated as a significant plot point. (My guess is that a guy who has been married to Carmen Electra for six months has seen things slightly more shocking than a butterfly tattoo, but never mind.) This is a film that makes sure that nearly every scene contains at least one wacky song cue to underline to slower viewers what is going on–when Tom is pressuring the kids to succeed while practicing for the competition, we hear “Under Pressure” and when a dog is about to attack at the dinner table (a blatant reprise of perhaps the only memorable bit from the first film), we get a snatch of the theme from “Jaws.” This is a film so profoundly bland and boring that when a couple of the older kids decide to finally break away and pursue their dreams, they choose to do so by moving to the bohemian paradise that is Madison, Wisconsin.

I can see why Steve Martin would sign up for a film so unworthy of his talents–he doesn’t have to expend much energy and it earns him enough money so he can turn around and do something like write “Shopgirl.” I can see why Bonnie Hunt would appear–the entertainment industry has never quite known what to do with her wit and since they don’t seem to be making any more “Beethoven” films, it allows her to keep the soup boiling. I can even understand why Duff and Welling, both bigger stars now than they were when the first film came out, decided to make their token appearances–clearly they were contractually obligated to do so and didn’t have a choice in the matter. What I don’t quite understand is why Eugene Levy, the comic genius who has been burning through the audience goodwill that he has built up over the years quicker than Robert De Niro, would choose to waste his time on that makes even less use of his gifts than “The Man.” On the one hand, I can hardly criticize him for doing a film that allows him to earn a lot of money and have Carmen Electra hanging on to him throughout most of his scenes. On the other hand, I can criticize him for doing a film in which Carmen Electra earns more honest laughs than he does.

Aside from a couple of minor off-hand laughs from Hunt (which must have been ad-libs since they have a snap utterly lacking elsewhere) and the pleasure of seeing Piper Perabo’s infectious smile (although once again in a film not deserving of such a sight), “Cheaper By the Dozen 2" is a miserable experience filled with crude slapstick, cruder sentiment and retrograde jokes (those uncomfortable by the tolerance surrounding “Brokeback Mountain” will be relieved to learn that this movie boldly teaches kids that people who appear to be homosexual should be laughed at mercilessly). Nevertheless, it will probably still make a mint this holiday season (unless potential audiences got their fill of jumbo-sized families with “Yours, Mine and Ours.” I’m not sure which is more depressing–the film itself or the fact that it will probably gross more in its opening weekend than such treasures as “Howl’s Moving Castle” or “Duma” did in their entire runs combined.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=13662&reviewer=389
originally posted: 12/21/05 00:36:44
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User Comments

2/15/17 Louise CR@P 1 stars
7/08/08 Totir Alexandru The first one was better, but still it was a very good comedy. 4 stars
11/15/06 David Pollastrini not as good as the first 3 stars
8/19/06 Beau bad sequence but enjoyable comic sences. The first one is definately better 2 stars
8/05/06 Chris Wilbik Cute movie 4 stars
5/19/06 Anastasia I Loved It!!! 5 stars
4/17/06 Chanelle It was soo awesome! It was the best movie i have ever sean in a long time! 5 stars
3/27/06 Brian Meyer Steve Martin and Hilary Duff maketh a blight on the land! Smite them O' Lord!!!! 1 stars
3/09/06 Dk Jokes are cheap by the dozen 2 stars
12/28/05 The Doctor Guaranteed to give your soul cancer! I can't rate this film low enough. 1 stars
12/23/05 Jonathon Holmes It's offical: Martins amd Levy's souls are for sale, dirt cheap 1 stars
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  21-Dec-2005 (PG)
  DVD: 23-May-2006



Directed by
  Adam Shankman

Written by
  Sam Harper

  Steve Martin
  Bonnie Hunt
  Hilary Duff
  Tom Welling
  Piper Perabo
  Eugene Levy

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