We are really never going to escape the unnecessary remake, are we? I mean, the 2003 Steve Martin Cheaper by the Dozen wasn’t even an original – that was also a remake of a 1950 movie with the same name. And here’s the most bewildering thing: neither of the previous movies were that good, either. Both are generally recognised as average at best. I feel as though I had a decent time watching the 2003 movie, but it’s not something I thought about ever again… So why even bother?
The answer, as always, is money. This 2022 version is a Disney+ original, but either way, the only answer is money. In this one, the vibe is much more modern and updated; there are several nods to popular culture, and the fact that the family itself is made up of parents and children of various races is in itself ‘modern’ (sadly) by filmmaking standards, so to speak. Usually, I’d write some sort of synopsis here, but what can I tell you that you don’t already know? Nothing.
In reference to my first statement, I’m going to re-iterate what I’ve already said. First Home Sweet Home Alone and now this? Why are Disney suddenly rebooting past movies? I’m going to be baffled by the direction they’re going in for quite some time, to be honest. At least this was a slight upgrade from their 2021 clanger, I suppose.
Adapted in order to appear more contemporary, Cheaper By the Dozen has pretty much the same premise as its predecessor(s) – a couple have way too many kids and this is what happens when you have too many kids. The end. However, some of the characters themselves are really likeable, which is the movie’s only saving grace. Gabrielle Union returns to the big screen as the matriarch (wonderful) and even some of the kids are a joy to watch. Mykal-Michelle Harris as Luna, for example? There is no universe in which that kid is not going to be a star someday. Write that down and quote me on it.
What are the main issues, then? I mean, there are quite a few. The plot itself is extremely basic, and though there are movies in which that wouldn’t matter, this one is almost two hours long(?!) so by the 60 minute mark it feels like a huge slog to complete it. Not all of the humour lands either; one or two jokes earned a stifled chuckle from me but unfortunately there’s no pass grade awarded in regards to the Six Laugh Test here. At least the dogs are cute?
Alongside all of that, there’s just not enough charm going on. Many of the kids themselves are charming, of course, but that doesn’t make for an endearing enough film overall. Maybe my distaste for Zach Braff in general contributed to my distaste for his character, but his presence undoubtedly takes away from any emotional connection you may feel towards the Baker Family. I just didn’t care enough about them to care about what happened in the end. And, based on the sickly sweet nature of a film with this sort of premise, you’ll know how it ends even before you press play anyway.
When the end does finally come, you won’t exactly feel enriched or excited that you watched this movie. There’s nothing life-affirming about it, there’s nothing memorable about it, and you’ll probably have forgotten it exists by next week. These 2 Qs are entirely because it was simply watchable enough… until it wasn’t.
Cheaper by the Dozen is available to stream on Disney+ in the UK.
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