Saturday, December 31, 2005

Movie Review: Cheaper By the Dozen


Tonight, I watched Cheaper by the Dozen 2 , the sequel to the 2003 film. In this film, America's favorite movie family -- the Bakers -- return to the big screen. Only this time, they're going toe-to-toe against another clan in the ultimate inter-family battle. The entire Cheaper by the Dozen cast reunites, including Steve Martin, Bonnie Hunt, Hillary Duff, Tom Welling and Piper Perabo, and they're joined by a new family, headed by Eugene Levy. Bigger scale, more laughs, ramped-up action –- and lots of heart –- are the hallmarks of the Bakers' new adventure.

In Cheaper by the Dozen 2, Tom Baker (Steve Martin), a football coach, and wife Kate, a novelist, hoping for one last hurrah before the children go their separate ways, take their 12 offspring for a vacation at the Bakers' favorite getaway spot: Lake Winnetka. "It'll be just like old times – one more time," Tom promises.

Instead, the vacation resurrects the longtime feud between Tom and Jimmy Murtaugh. It's a fight that stems in part from differences in parenting styles between the Bakers and Murtaughs. Tom and Kate Baker have allowed their children to grow as individuals, warts and all. In contrast, Murtaugh has had his children on a short leash, grooming them, as Harper writes, "to reflect the best aspects of his gene pool."

The movie affirms family values and it contains some heart-tugging sentimentality, which gives it some innocent charm in an entertainment world which today is overly obsessed with sex and violence.

For me, this film was just what the doctor ordered. I was interested in watching a light comedy, nothing too intellectually taxing, just something that would draw me into another milieu for a short time and provide a few laughs. This movie fulfilled my expectations. In fact, it had me laughing out loud on several occasions. You can be assured that any film with Steve Martin in it, regardless of the plot, is bound to make you feel good, and this one did exactly that.

However, if you are looking for a movie with imagination or complexity, this is not the film for you. The plot is predictable and basically ordinary, but the three inspired comedians who star in this film -- Steve Martin, Bonnie Hunt, and Eugene Levy -- give this ordinary film the zest it needs to cheer its audience. Steve Martin steals the show with his wacky slapstick comedy and crazy antics. After all these years, he's still a "wild and crazy guy".

I give it *** of five stars. It was amusing. Go see it.
It is rated PG.

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