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Cheaper By The Dozen

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Cheaper By The Dozen

Starring: Steve Martin, Bonnie Hunt
Director: Shawn Levy
Rated: PG
RunTime: 90 Minutes
Release Date: November 2003
Genres: Comedy, Family

*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 Originally made back in 1950, it's the story of how the Gilbreths, who were pioneers in time-and-motion efficiency, raised their dozen offspring by strict yet inventive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 surroundings.

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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