Cheaper by the Dozen

Bomb Rating: 

Men can dream all they want about their wives having twelve children and still looking like Bonnie Hunt. Unfortunately, women that prolific usually end up looking like Leona Helmsley, with bodies like rotting fruit. And yes, this is completely unfair to women and the toll child-bearing takes on them. If men had to bear that kind of pain, heroin would be legal and every bridge would be manned by a suicide prevention officer.

More amazing than Bonnie Hunt looking like Bonnie Hunt after squeezing out twelve pups is that she's had time to write a book. Off she goes to promote it, leaving husband Tom (Steve Martin) in charge of the clan, beginning the second act to this pointless remake. The first act began when Tom took a new job as a head football coach for a Division 1A school, uprooting the entire family and moving them somewhere they don't want to be.

As is typical with any Hollywood film involving the "middle" class, the Hollywood screenwriters are completely clueless about anything resembling real-world fiscal concerns. As the film opens, Tom appears to have a job as a small-town high school gym teacher. Let's be generous and say that he makes $40K per year after twenty or so years at the job. His wife, Kate (Hunt), hasn't had time to do much of anything other than gestate. That's barely enough money to raise one kid, let alone twelve. It kind of made me think that somebody should combine this movie with "Alive" for more realism.

When Tom gets his new job, they move to a Chicago suburb and into a virtual mansion, which must easily cost close to a million dollars. Where they get the downpayment for this thing is anybody's guess. Perhaps they actually had fourteen kids and sold a couple of the younger ones on the black market, but it's doubtful that even this would raise enough cash for the house.

As one might expect, the move inspires chaos and the kids begin creating havoc as Tom starts spending too much time at his job and Kate goes on a book tour. Nora (Piper Perabo) is living with her boyfriend (Ashton Kutcher) while high school senior Charlie (Tom Welling) gets belittled for being a hick at his new school. Though Hilary Duff plays Lorraine, her job is mainly to preen. The rest of the precocious bunch are not worth mentioning, since the next time we're likely to see them is on some future episode of "Where are They Now?"

Martin headlines here, but appears to be merely cashing a paycheck. Like fruitcake, "Cheaper By the Dozen" is tolerated only because of the holidays.

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