Children-friendly and Disney-centric in its appeal,
“Cheaper by the Dozen” has made its way to DVD in time
to keep lonely copies of “Parenthood” and “The
Lizzie McGuire Moive” company. Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt
play Tom and Kate Baker, two small-town parents who live a simple
life until Tom is lured by a prominent Division I school to coach
in an evil big city.
Despite promising their kids that things will be better, the
city life doesn’t turn out to be quite as good as the parents
once thought. The 12 kids are uncomfortable with the lack of
attention they are receiving as a result of their parents’
busy schedules, and the family begins to unravel. As things spin
further out of control, Tom and Kate must ask themselves what
success and happiness really are.
Unintentionally, the film serves as a discourse on the working
mother and the father’s role in a family. As the father, Tom
displays utter ineptitude, being completely unfit to raise his
children once Kate leaves on a book tour. While this is clearly the
type of opportunity a comedy needs to inject its brand of slapstick
humor, it leaves an undeniable message. Tom has no idea of what
he’s doing, putting the guilt squarely on the mother’s
shoulders. She becomes some sort of villain for leaving her family
behind to pursue a career.
The 12 Baker children all fight each other for attention and
screen time. Lorraine (Hilary Duff) begs for notice with her
cliché version of the fashion-obsessed teen while Charlie
(Tom Welling) comes off as dark, portraying the oldest son who is
still trapped at home. His intensity gives the film enough weight
to prevent it from being a complete piece of cotton candy.
“Cheaper by the Dozen” — like many other
family comedies on DVD — skimped out on the special features.
It has two audio commentaries: one by director Shawn Levy, which is
manic and strange, and one with the 12 Baker kids, which has more
of a juvenile tone. A feature interview with Levy and several
unnecesary deleted scenes don’t make the extras any more
Still, when all is said and done, the film is occasionally funny
and captures the energy of a large household.
Film: 2 out of 5 stars
Sound/Picutre: 4 out of 5 stars
Features: 2 out of 5 stars