out of 4
All-Reviews.com Movie/Video Review
Cheaper By The Dozen
|*Also starring: ||Tom Welling, Piper Perabo, Hilary Duff, Ashton Kutcher, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Merris Carden, John Dixon, Benjamin Fitch, Adam Taylor Gordon, David Kelsey||
Review by Susan Granger
1½ stars out of 4
This lackluster family comedy was the cinematic lump of coal in my
Christmas stocking. Originally made back in 1950, it's the story of how the
Gilbreths, who were pioneers in time-and-motion efficiency, raised their dozen
offspring by strict yet inventive mathematical techniques. That intriguing
concept has been eviscerated for a moronic, slapstick version of "Parenthood."
Tom Baker (Steve Martin) is the popular football coach at a Midland
College in downstate Illinois. He and his slim, trim, flirtatious wife Kate
(Bonnie Hunt) live in seemingly chaotic bliss with their 11 high-spirited
children; an older daughter (Piper Perabo) has left to live with her
actor/boy-friend (Ashton Kutcher). Suddenly, Tom gets an irresistible job offer
at a bigger university, which propels the family to move to a Chicago suburb;
inexplicably, at the same time, Kate's memoirs get published, requiring her to
depart on a spur-of-the-moment book tour. That leaves Tom trying to juggle his
new gridiron responsibilities with the sullen resentment of his various
children at having to uproot their lives and adjust to new schools and new
Based on a bland, formulaic script by Sam Harper, Joel Cohen & Alec
Sokolow and directed by Shawn Levy ("Just Married"), it's an unfocused farce
that lacks any comic edge. While affable Steve Martin exudes patience, Bonnie
Hunt is simply not credible as a matriarch. Tom Welling ("Smallville") is far
too mature to be Hunt's son, which elicits a blooper laugh during the credits.
And Hilary Duff ("Lizzie McGuire") must have been cast for her teen
demographics. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Cheaper By the Dozen" is
a worn-out, hand-me-down 4. This sappy, syrupy Baker's dozen has gone stale, as
reflected in Steve Martin's final expression.
Copyright © 2003 Susan Granger
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