Fox Home Entertainment presents
Cheaper By the Dozen (2003)
Tina: Is Jake your only child?
Kate: No, we have 12.
Tom: I couldn't keep her off of me.- Paula Marshall, Bonnie Hunt, Steve Martin
Stars: Steve Martin, Bonnie Hunt
Other Stars: Kevin Schmidt, Alyson Stoner, Jacob Smith, Liliana Mumy, Morgan York, Forrest Landis, Blake Woodruff, Brent Kinsman, Shane Kinsman, Hilary Duff, Tom Welling, Piper Perabo, Paula Marshall, Steven Anthony Lawrence, Alan Ruck, Richard Jenkins, Regis Philbin, Kelly Ripa, Ashton Kutcher, Wayne Knight
Director: Shawn Levy
MPAA Rating: PG for language and some thematic elements
Run Time: 01h:38m:37s
Release Date: 2004-04-06
DVD ReviewCheaper By the Dozen is the slightly noisy remake of the classic 1950 Clifton Webb comedy (itself based on a fairly successful book), and though most of the story has been updated and tweaked quite a bit, not much more than a glimmer of the original remains. Mom. Dad. Twelve kids. What's left, and this is really kind of the important part, is that it is still a warm, sweet family film, a feat that is no small challenge to pull off nowadays.
This Shawn (Big Fat Liar, Just Married) Levy-directed remake, is a return to an old-school type family entertainment anchored by the pairing of Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt, who star as Tom and Kate Baker. He's a small town college football coach, she's a writer—and they're the understandably harried but loving parents of a dozen colorfully diverse kids (hence the title), with an age range from twenty-something down to kindergarten. When Tom gets a job offer to coach for his former college, the family has to uproot from their comfy small town home and set up shop in a new neighborhood in the big city. Problems arise right away because none of the kids want to move, which only adds to the Tom's newfound coaching pressures, which are made all the more stressful when Kate has to suddenly leave town to go on a book tour. Sure enough, with Tom in charge, hijinks ensue.
In between all the wacky pranks and general shenanigans from the youngsters that is dropped in periodically—such as chandelier dangling or soaking a character's pants in meat so dogs will find him "attractive"—it is really the star power of Martin and Hunt that hold the all loose parts together. Though the former wild-and-crazy guy has slowly, over the years, morphed into safer, less raucous characters, he takes to the role of the exasperated, temporarily misguided dad pretty well. Teaming him with the breezy Hunt, who has the natural knack to make it seem like she's making her lines up as she goes, was really a brilliant casting move, because the two of them make for an immensely likeable couple. While I never bought for a minute that they could have possibly had the titular variety-pack of kids (despite a rather funny montage of their origins), I believed and liked them as a couple, which is more than I can say for most light comedies.
When Levy has to move away from having Martin and Hunt together, he doles out plenty of frivolous comedic scenes with the cute kids doing cute, mischievous things—generally involving some degree of wholesale destruction. Some work better than others, and most are well telegraphed, such as when we first meet the rich boy neighbor and his stuffy mom, and learn of the kid's upcoming birthday party; movie logic says it's a given that chaos will reign down in safe, well-choreographed doses of giggly mayhem. It's the younger kids who get to initiate most of the wacky physical gags, with "serious" older sibs Hilary Duff, Tom Welling, and Piper Perabo left to pop in occasionally with their "dramatic" problems, though Perabo does drag along an uncredited Aston Kutcher as her vain, commercial-actor boyfriend who is the recipient of numerous pranks.
Nobody's ever going to confuse this with being something particularly deep; it's just a nice pratfall, spit-take kind of family comedy.
Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B-
|Aspect Ratio||1.85:1 - Widescreen||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes||no|
Image Transfer Review: Fox has issued Cheaper By the Dozen as a two-sided disc, with one side 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, and the other being an open matte 1.33:1 version. The transfers are both absolute beauties, which is a little surprising for such a simple comedy. Color reproduction is outstanding, rendered in an array of vivid and showy hues, and black levels are spot on. The pristine print is devoid of any type of nick or specking, and no noticeable edge enhancement or compression issues were to be found.
Very, very nice.
Image Transfer Grade: A-
|DS 2.0||French, Spanish||yes|
Audio Transfer Review: Audio is provided in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, and unlike the video, the transfer here is slightly less exciting. As with most comedies, the action is primarily relegated to the front, including some decent imaging and separation, with minimal surround use. Dialogue is clean, and easily understood, even if the overall presentation is remarkably understated.
French and Spanish 2.0 surround tracks are also included.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring Garfield: The Movie
5 Deleted Scenes
2 Feature/Episode commentaries by Shawn Levy, Alyson Stoner, Jacob Smith, Kevin Schmidt, Morgan York, Liliana Mumy, Piper Perabo
Extras Review: Fox has provided two hit-or-miss commentary tracks for Cheaper By the Dozen, with director Shawn Levy tackling the first one solo. Levy talks extensively about his film, and while I can't fault the guy for wanting to be effusive about his project, some of the content was just a case of too much information, especially for such a light comedy. The second track features "The Baker Kids," in this case Alyson Stoner, Jacob Smith, Kevin Schmidt, Morgan York, Liliana Mumy, and occasional comments from a separately recorded Piper Perabo; all of you Tom Wettig and Hilary Duff fans will no doubt be wondering why they weren't included in this. Having kids record a commentary track isn't a new thing, and it's a cute idea (on paper, at least), but as an antithesis to Levy's over-technical track, this one is completely frivolous.
Orphans: Deleted and Extended Scenes (07m:01s) offers up five sequences, none of which are particularly memorable except for the one titled The Nanny, featuring a comically wheezing Eileen Brennan. These are available with or without a Shawn Levy commentary explaining just why the footage got the boot. Director's Viewfinder: Creating The Perfect Family (04m:51s) is a quick little segment in which Levy tries to condense his creative process into less than five minutes, in between a few behind-the-scenes clips. In addition to also sporting a trailer for Garfield: The Movie, the disc is cut into 28 chapters, and features optional subtitles in English or Spanish.
Extras Grade: B-
Final CommentsNothing racy or ribald in this remake, just a dose of simple, family-friendly comedy.
Recommended as an ideal family night rental.
Rich Rosell 2004-04-05