Watch This: Cheaper By the Dozen

2003. Directed by Shaun Levy, with Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt.

2 of 5 stars

Not even Steve Martin can save this remake of Cheaper By the Dozen, which is not nearly as good as either the book by Frank B. Gilbreth, or the original film made in 1950, with Clifton Webb. Part of the charm of the story as written was the occupation of the paterfamilias as an efficiency expert. Martin’s character is a football coach, which all but eviscerates the comic potential. Except for the fact of the twelve children, this  CBTD  bears no resemblance to the Gilbreth saga. Setting aside this issue, how does it play as a family movie?

Not well at all, sad to say. Martin might as well have phoned in his performance. Bonnie Hunt as wife and mother channeled Carol Brady. The kids are OK, but there are too many of them for anyone but the eldest son to establish their character. The screenplay is predictable, and most of the “humor” falls flat.

CBTD  might be suitable for viewing for families with young kids, but otherwise, it’s a yawner from start to finish. Why they ever made a sequel (CBTD 2) is a mystery. If you want to see a truly funny version of a true family, watch the original with Clifton Webb and Myrna Loy.


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