Cheaper by the Dozen (2003)


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Rating: PG

Steve Martin as Tom Baker
Bonnie Hunt as Kate Baker
Piper Perabo as Nora Baker
Tom Welling as Charlie Baker
Hilary Duff as Lorraine Baker
Kevin Schmidt as Henry Baker
Alyson Stoner as Sarah Baker
Jacob Smith as Jake Baker
Liliana Mumy as Jessica Baker
Morgan York as Kim Baker
Forrest Landis as Mark Baker
Blake Woodruff as Mike Baker
Brent Kinsman as Nigel Baker
Shane Kinsman as Kyle Baker
Paula Marshall as Tina Shenk
Steven Anthony Lawrence as Dylan Shenk
Alan Ruck as Bill Shenk
Regis Philbin as Himself
Kelly Ripa as Herself
Wayne Knight as Electrician
Ashton Kutcher as Hank

Special Features:
Full-Length Audio Commentary by Director Shawn Levy

Full-Length Audio Commentary by the Baker Kids

Deleted / Extended Scenes with Optional Commentary

“Director’s Viewfinder” Featurette

Other Info:
Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1)
Full Frame (1.33:1)
Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound
Spanish and French Language
English and French Subtitles
Running Time: 98 Minutes

This film is based on the book by the same name. It has little in common with the book or the original 1950 film.

Tom and Kate Baker love children. In fact, they love them so much that they had twelve of them. In order to do this both of them have put their dreams for careers aside. Tom is a football coach and Kate is an aspiring writer. However, when Tom is offered a coaching position at a major university, he jumps at the chance to take the job. Despite the protests from his children, he picks up the family and moves them to the city.

Unfortunately, the children don’t adjust well to the move. Charlie is harassed at his high school and misses the girlfriend that he left behind. Young Mark also finds himself picked on by bullies, harassed by his siblings, and overlooked by his parents. Nora, who has moved out of the house and in with her boyfriend Hank, also finds herself pulled back into the wild world of her family.

Things get worse when Kate gets a publishing deal for her book. When she must leave the house on a book tour for two weeks, Tom must take care of the family and handle his new job alone. Things quickly spiral out of control and Tom and Kate must face the decision of putting their careers first or their family.

Cheaper by the Dozen is rated PG for language and some thematic elements.

The Movie:
First off, if you’re going into this movie expecting a remake of the 1950 film “Cheaper by the Dozen”, then forget it. The films are completely different except for the idea that there are 12 children. (Plus, the older film had the father die at the end, so I can’t imagine that being a feel good ending to this 2003 version.) This new version is basically a light, feel-good comedy for the whole family. It is clean, has laughs that everyone can appreciate, and is generally safe. While that also makes it rather bland, it is still good for a few chuckles and worth checking out.

Steve Martin is pretty good as the frazzled patriarch of the Baker family. Martin seems to have a lot of fun in the role and shows off more energy than I’ve seen from him in quite some time. Bonnie Hunt is also energetic as Kate Baker. Though she doesn’t look like a woman who has had 12 kids, she does seem to have a lot of fun with them as well. Teen stars Piper Perabo, Tom Welling, and Hilary Duff don’t really do anything new in their roles, but that’s OK. Perabo is needed to be a perky 20-something, Welling is needed to be a troubled teen, and Duff is needed to be a teeny bopper. They do what is required of them well. Amazingly, all of the other kids in the movie have moments where they get to shine. That’s quite a feat considering there are 12 of them. The supporting cast, including Wayne Knight, Aston Kutcher, and Alan Ruck, are all fun as well.

The film portrays the chaos of a 12 child family well. Everything from the logistics of feeding and dressing the kids to them feeling neglected is touched on. While this is probably a rosier portrayal of what it would be like to live in such a family, they still make it look tough. The chaos is what provides most of the laughs anyway.

The Extras:
There are a few minor extras included on this DVD:

Full-Length Audio Commentary by Director Shawn Levy – Levy gives a very technical commentary that is heavy on the mechanics behind making the movie. He does have a few anecdotes about working with the actors, the story, etc, but it is mainly focused on his work as director.

Full-Length Audio Commentary by the Baker Kids – This commentary is the total opposite of Levy’s commentary. It features a few of the kids who played the Baker children in the movie. Imagine watching the movie with a bunch of young children talking the whole time and you get an idea of what this commentary is like. It’s quite often a bunch of voices all talking at once. They do talk about their experiences on the set and they even point out bloopers. It’s fun, but tiring to listen to.

Deleted / Extended Scenes with Optional Commentary – There are five deleted scenes included on this DVD. One shows Kate arriving at her hotel and having to dig through a messy purse to find a tip for the bellboy. Another scene shows Tom Welling’s character looking at a photo of his dad’s old football team. A very badly Photoshopped picture of a young Steve Martin is shown. Then there’s a slightly different scene where the family meets Tom on the football field after his last game. However, the highlight of the deleted scenes is a sequence with a Nanny played by Private Benjamin’s Eileen Brennan. The kids set up a trap for her but it ends up being the Dad who springs it. It is probably the best of the deleted scenes and it is quite elaborate considering it was cut.

“Director’s Viewfinder” Featurette – This is a 4 minute or so video interviewing director Shawn Levy. He talks about being brought on board for the film, casting the kids, and trying to film the movie. It’s interesting, but too brief.

The Bottom Line:
Overall this is a fun family movie. If you’re a fan of Steve Martin, Bonnie Hunt, Tom Welling, or Hilary Duff, you’ll enjoy this movie.