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Saturday, 7 July 2018

Retro Review: Cheaper By The Dozen (2003)

Cheaper By The Dozen
Cast: Steve Martin, Bonnie Hunt, Hilary Duff, Tom Welling, Piper Perabo
Genre: Family Comedy
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $190 million 

Plot: With his wife doing a book tour, a father of twelve must handle a new job & his unstable brood

'Never Mind Cheap, This Is Cliched With A Boring Story'

2003's Cheaper By The Dozen is a retread of 1989's Parenthood: an earlier Steve Martin comedy that is very similar to this film and is also a remake of a 1950's film of the same title. It sees Steve as an American football coach who has to juggle his role with being a husband to his wife, played by Bonnie Hunt and their 12 kids. After their kids grew up, the parents decide to focus on their careers by accepting job offers, and this causes an upheaval among the kids.

From the reviews that I have read, it made it come across as if Cheaper By The Dozen was a decent, endearing and funny film. But it wasn't, rather it was bland and the story and characters didn't sustain my interest. 

Steve Martin's films, but for Bowfinger, The Man With Two Brains, The Jerk to name but a couple, just do not have that rewatchability factor that Eddie Murphy's and Robin Williams's 80s and 90s movies possess for me. A lot of that has to do with his brand of comedy and humour which hasn't resonated with me. & Cheaper by The Dozen is another of those efforts of Steve's that pretty much fails on almost every level. Martin's shtick becomes tired and less amusing, although, in honesty, most of his comedy films are just not up to standard. Cheaper by the Dozen is chaotic at times with its Home Alone-esque antics caused by the kids and it tries to make a lot of noise, but it just feels so laboured and all attempts at humour fail to land on the spot. Comedy-wise, it has been done to death before with the pratfalls and what-have-not, and done miles better, as well. 

The kids are, kids, but there were too many of them for me to keep track of and there is little character development. It's interesting seeing Steve Martin trying to cut it in family-based flicks, but compared to Robin Williams, he doesn't possess that softer underbelly to carry it off. As much as I can criticise Robin when he becomes a bit overemotional and at times, too sappy in his performances, at least for me, he can convey it and it touches on people's emotions. Yet not with Steve Martin, especially in Cheaper By The Dozen. He just can't pull it off, naturally. The remaining cast members, Piper Perabo of the derivative Coyote Ugly is in this one, as is Hilary Duff and Smallville's Tom Welling are given precious little to do. 

Their performances weren't anything to rave about; Bonnie Hunt didn't say or do much and her character is sidelined for much of the duration and she made little to no impact. 

The slapstick is predictable, formulaic, as expected. When it approaches the story in a straightforward manner, it doesn't convince and is so generic and uninspired for me to really get behind it. Given it was written by one of the writers who did the 2 Garfield live-action flicks, comedy Money Talks starring Chris Tucker & Charlie Sheen, & the direct-to-DVD sequel, Daddy Day Camp, which weren't great films themselves, isn't surprising. & yet also, this same writer wrote the original Toy Story, which was a box office hit. 

Plus for a so-called family comedy, it just wasn't heartfelt enough. 

It may be harmless stuff, but it lacked entertainment and the story didn't make that much of an impression. 

Cheaper By The Dozen is a lukewarm early 2000s comedy that comes across as too lukewarm and cheap for its own good it ultimately can't and doesn't hold my attention that long enough. It's astonishing that this raked in over $190 million worldwide and so many other 1980s and 1990s comedies have made far less in excess-, and are still funnier than what has been dished up here. 

The film has also drawn comparisons with Daddy Day Care, which was much maligned during its release, - yet even with that film and through Eddie Murphy's turn, I personally found there was a tad more that I enjoyed in that movie than in Cheaper By The Dozen

Final Verdict:

This is too bland and cliched you can smell it from a mile away; that, and Martin, himself didn't possess more of the charm that Daddy Day Care's Murphy had. Also, it just strikes me as I watched this how, with Steve Martin, he looks out of place in a family comedy such as this, and rather with more tinkering with the screenplay and having someone like Robin Williams in place of Steve Martin perhaps, it might have made Cheaper By The Dozen far more promising and entertaining. 

I found it ironic that there was a blooper reel at the end of this movie because there just wasn't enough good and genuine comedy to justify its inclusion. 

It's not that this was completely bad, it was poor, and dull and not that funny.


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