Cheaper by the Dozen 2 is another tired reworking of a typical family comedy, yet is still made enjoyable due to its main cast.
What’s new in this film now that the novelty of having a bunch of kids is gone? The parents, Tom and Kate Baker (Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt) are starting to experience leaving the nest worries when it comes to their older kids. Steve Martin’s reactions to losing his little girls to guys and bigger cities, reminded me very much of his Father of the Bride situation and character but doubled. In order to recapture the simpler more family like times, Tom suggests they all return to their summer lake retreat that they used to go to years ago. Instead of bonding like he had hoped though, his kids are busy hanging out at his childhood competitor’s big home on the lake with all the fixings and toys. Comedian Eugene Levy plays Jimmy Murtaugh, Tom’s nemis who has eight kids of his own. The two fathers then compete like old times trying to prove who has the best family and which is the best parent. They even enter their families into an end of the summer lake contest, which puts stress on both families.
The story is predictable and you can figure out the basic plot, resolution and the moral of the story within the first 15 minutes. The beginning of the film was a bit drawn out and wasn’t funny until they arrive at the lake and the competition and outdoors stuff begins.
Eugene Levy for a change gets to play more of a smooth talking role and not a hapless loser. In fact, his character is married to a trophy wife played by Carmen Electra. I must say I was pretty impressed to see Carmen not play a ditz for a change and attempt comedy. Overall she was pretty sweet and charming in this film. Bonnie Hunt was great as ever but sadly she was not utilized enough in this sequel.
As for the kids, the older ones are no longer the main focus so thankfully there is less of Hilary Duff in this film and more emphasis on the younger kids like the twins and 11-year-old tomboy Sarah (Alyson Stoner) who develops her first crush and of course it’s on a Murtaugh boy. Smallville‘s Tom Welling still has a sizeable role in the sequel and also falls for one of the Murtaughs, stirring up more controversy amongst the families. The only one not in the sequel is Ashton Kutcher who originally played Piper Perabo’s fianc©e and her now husband is played by someone else with a cell phone attached to his ear who is very unmemorable in looks and character.
As for the stylistic stuff, the music throughout the film was fun and complemented the scenes very well. Extras include a director’s audio commentary, trailers and a featurette on casting the film. The featurette has interviews with the cast as they search to cast the new family in the film, manage the child actors’ schedules as well as some behind the scenes high jinks. It also showed that the cast seemed to have bonded after the two films. There are also bloopers but they do not appear in the special features area but right after the film during the credits.
It’s a clean family picture with good leading stars–not bad for a rental.
It didn’t hold my interest continually and I found myself giving the film only my half attention.
On the Side:
The film was filmed two hours outside of Toronto and due to the isolation the cast would have Karoke nights and do other activities as a group. Also, Haylie Duff (Hilary Duff’s sister) is on the cover of Allure magazine that Lorraine is reading.
Breaking Down the DVD:
The Film: C
The Delivery: B
The Extras: B
Final Grade: C+
Release Date: May 23, 2006
Starring: Steve Martin, Bonnie Hunt, Hilary Duff, Eugene Levy
Directed by: Adam Shankman
Writing Credits: Sam Harper, Craig Titley (screenplay), Frank B. Gilbreth Jr., Ernestine Gilbreth Carey (novel)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Sound Mix: Dolby Digital
MPAA: Rated PG for some crude humor and mild language.
Run Time: 94 min.
Studio: 20th Century Fox (official site)
Watch the Trailer Here