Cheaper by the Dozen - movie review (December 23, 2003)

I saw this film recently, and I really liked it.  I didn't have much interest in the film until I saw the trailer, which looked funny.  While it doesn't quite reach the level of "Parenthood" (which I loved), this movie reminded me a lot of that one, probably because of Steve Martin and the movie being about various kids.  I thought he and Bonnie Hunt did a really good job.  Since I watch her current TV show, it was very familiar to see her in charge of a bunch of kids and the chaos that's inherent.  Tom Welling seems to be the one that everyone's talking about, and I can certainly see why.  They do play up his good looks and downplay the more serious acting that he displays on "Smallville".  I've never seen Hilary Duff in anything else before, so I have nothing to compare her to, but I found her to be fairly annoying in this film, though I don't know how much of that was her and how much of that was her character.  There were two of the younger kids that kept catching my attention, partly because they looked remarkably like others.  The one little girl that I kept thinking must be related to the Olsen twins turned out instead to be Billy Mumy's daughter.  And then there's the little boy who looks so much like a young Elijah Wood.  (How awful is that, that "young Elijah Wood" actually means something, considering I remember him when he was 9 years old and in "Avalon"?)  Alan Ruck has a bit part as a neighbor.  It's really weird seeing Ferris Bueller's best friend as a responsible dad.  And in an uncredited role, Ashton Kutcher plays the boyfriend of the oldest daughter.  Since I don't pay much attention to him, I didn't even know it was him until after the movie when someone mentioned it.  He's hilarious in this film.

I was concerned that the film would rely too much on crude humour, but there are only a few bits, and they're not focused on too much.  It's really just about the things that happen when there are 12 children in the family, with a mom and dad who have their own dreams as well.  It was funny and cute and yeah, heartwarming, but not in an overly mushy way.  It's something that I think everyone can enjoy and definitely fits right in with the season.

I haven't seen the original film by the same name, so I don't have that to compare this to, but I do think this film stands fine on its own.

The writing credit block bears a "based on" credit to the book by the Gilbreths, and Bonnie Hunt's character's maiden name is Gilbreth, though the family name is Baker.  (I do think the references to "Baker's dozen" work.)

And I enjoyed the outtakes that run through the early part of the credits.

A definite recommend.



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