Tom Baker and his wife Kate are loving parents to 12 obnoxious and very Disney children you would love to slap the snot out of.
Tom is played by Steve Martin, who here continues his long slide down the KY-lubed-up slip’n’slide of Hollywood mediocrity into puke-inducing family friendly comedy territory. His wife Kate is played by Bonnie Hunt. Bonnie Hunt?
Why Bonnie Hunt? Because the role of wife is obviously not important in this film, that’s why. Living a seemingly happy life in some soft-focussed generic mid-western town, Tom gets by as a low paid high school football coach who never quite made it, while Kate cares for the brood of quasi-demons, having gallantly given up a career in journalism to allow Tom to follow his dream of being a nobody schmuck.
Then, unexpectedly, just as I was about to turn off the dvd player out of sheer boredom and watch a video tape of old 'Giligan’s Island' episodes, Tom gets a call from an old friend offering him a dream coaching job. So while I put down the remote, they pack up their crap and move to the big smoke against the wishes of the resentful brats who don’t want to leave behind their friends.
But the kids don’t have to pay the bills, do they? So their opinion doesn’t count. Like Confuscious says, “Children should be smacked before they’re heard.”
So, a big new beautiful house, a high paying job, the kids in new schools with new friends and fresh trendy clothes—life should be sweet—and it is, for about one chapter (rule of thumb: one chapter = one day in the real world).
Soon, Kate is unexpectedly whisked away on a national book tour when her debut novel about life with 12 children is selected for publishing, leaving Tom to juggle the demands of family and the time intensive demands of his new job. Before long the cracks begin to show with his family and his career beginning to fall apart under the strain of not enough time to dedicate to doing both adequately.
In competent hands (i.e. not the hands of director Shawn Levy), a film like Cheaper by the Dozen would be a perfectly fine and entertaining comedy, if still incredibly predictable. But, an insurmountable problem (for me) arises when you realise early on that the children, young and old, are a bunch of detestable, selfish, little shits.
The obnoxious brood of self-centred children don’t do a damn thing to help Tom weather the storm (a storm they create, mind you), even though many of the kids are old enough to know better and they can clearly see the family unit is in disarray. And the reason for the kids to act like little arseholes? It’s supposed to be funny. Hahahaha…
Also not helping is the way sub-plots are treated like disliked toys at Christmas time – held up happily in the family snaps but quickly smashed to smithereens against the lumpy head of the retarded cousin once the parents have gone back to getting pissed on home-made wine.
One subplot in particular involves the eldest son (Tom Welling of televisions Smallville) being picked on at his new school by fellow students and the sports coach. Why did the writers even bother with this? There’s no resolution, no explanation (they obviously just wanna use the well worn “new kid in school not fitting in” cliché).
But as I mentioned earlier, you don’t give a damn about his predicament, because what has he done to help his father at home, besides mope around and act all broody? F*ck him, I say. Time to grow up, Superman. You’re old enough to drive a car, you’re old enough to rent porn, so you’re old enough to help out around the house and keep your brothers and sisters in line.
But naturally, this being a multiplex friendly serving of life (and successfully so in box-office dollars, some how, beats me) there’s a wholesome wrap-up delivered with preachy treacly sweet lessons that teaches we all love one another and do what’s best for the family when push comes to shove.
Frankly, this film could have done with a healthy dose of realistic wog family justice – bring out the wooden spoon and beat all the kids to a bloody pulp for being little pricks and making things harder than they had to be. That would have resonated with the audience better than this tripe.
But in CBTD, nothing is ever harsher than a nasty stare, a minor insult or a slammed door. That sort of thing would have got you killed in my house, and quite possibly would have enraged my pop so much that he would have taken the doors off the hinges entirely. But it’s safe to safe that realism isn’t what they were aiming for here, but that’s pretty bloody obvious as well. Nope, a few laughs, a warming of the cockles of your heart and a good feeling in your pants top out their expectations of the typical audience, it’s just that I’ll be damned if I can figure out who that audience is meant to be. But I could live with that, if only there were a few more laughs to pad out the homely homily and sub-Brady Bunch antics.
I fully expect (unfortunately) that Steve Martin will be appearing in yet another family friendly comedy in short time.
Rest assured that I will not be reviewing that DVD.
I’m completely underwhelmed by both the film and the DVD. Sure, it tries to pack in a few extra things for the greedy extra-freaks amongst us, but it’s just so much overcooked puff pastry that crumbles in your mouth far too easily leaving custard to squirt onto your t-shirt and a hollow feeling inside your belly, and the same can be said for the film.
Personally, I’m still hoping that Martin can pack a big final punch before he decides that he’s no longer interested in being in front of the camera.
On a positive note, the technical quality of the picture and sound is basically faultless though, so when you see someone considering buying this DVD in a store, tell ‘em the film is a messy bunch of silly drivel, but it is at least presented on a solid disc. They’ll look at you thinking “Hey, this stud/studess sounds pretty damn smart, they must read DVDnet!”, and then they’ll punch you in the forehead. It’ll serve you right for shooting off your mouth like a smart-alec. Who do you think you are? Me? Bwaaaaaaaaahaaaaaaaahaaaaaaaaa!
You make me laugh..