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movies > cheaper by the dozen

cheaper by the dozen

Cheaper by the Dozen is a cute little movie with an important message - you know, that one about family being the most important thing in the world. It's the story of the Bakers, a huge family of (yes) twelve children, led by parents Tom (Steve Martin) and Kate (Bonnie Hunt). Tom is a successful football coach at a small college in the town. Kate stays at home to take care of the litter of children and enjoys writing in the few spare moments of her day. But it looks like things are going to change. Tom has received an offer to coach football at his alma matter, and Kate might be publishing her book soon. The family ponders whether to move and then hilarity ensues.
So it doesn't have plot machinations that could be mistaken for The Godfather, but Cheaper by the Dozen is a friendly, safe film that even adults can stomach. Kids will laugh at the ridiculousness of the childrens' adventures, adults will enjoy the precocious back-talk and Ashton Kutcher getting his nuts mauled by the dog. Obviously, the comedy comes mostly by way of all the slapstick in the movie and little of it is what you would call "subtle" in the traditional sense - lots of food fights and running around. But Cheaper by the Dozen never pretends to be anything to the contrary, and I respect a movie that sticks to its guns and never deviates beyond its abilities.

The Baker kids themselves are quite the enjoyable bunch and each fit some kind of stereotype that we all seem to fall in either as kids or adults: the bully, the nerd, the troublemaker, the jock and the tomboy. The Jock in this case is Superman (Tom Welling) who mostly broods about the movie. Slightly more fun is former Disney-sensation Hilary Duff who plays a (surprise) vapid and somewhat shallow, blonde, teenage girl. Also lovely is the little-seen Piper Perabo, as Nora who has moved in with her shallow boyfriend Hank (the aforementioned Kutcher in a strangely uncredited role). Hank is actually Ashton Kutcher. I mean that Kutcher is playing a version of himself: a talentless actor who mostly gets by on his looks.

Cheaper by the Dozen is the kind of movie that you well imagine might have been called Baker's Dozen, if the creators were slightly more annoying. That's just the kind of movie that it is. But as it stands now, the movie is cute, lacking in serious plot development, but fun for - yes - the whole family.

On the widescreen side, there's a five minute featurettes with the director telling how he got the movie and cast the kids. It's a nice, but mostly useless thing. We also get two commentaries. The first is with director Shawn Levy who does a good job in keeping it fresh and interesting - your usual good director's commentary. Less exciting is the commentary by "the Baker Kids" which finds several of the young actors doing commentary. And though I really thought these actors were great in the movie, listening to them on a commentary track was a little trying. On the other side, our final extra is seven minutes of deleted scenes available with director commentary. Some good stuff in here, but nothing special.

Cheaper by the Dozen is a cute movie. That's both the best and worst thing that I can say about it. Stevie Martin and Bonnie Hunt are as usual, funny and the kids provide some laughs. If you want a movie that has a plethora of group hugs, then you've found it.

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