Cheaper By the Dozen

Tom Baker: Steve Martin
Kate Baker: Bonnie Hunt
Nora Baker: Piper Perabo
Hank: Ashton Kutcher
Lorraine: Hilary Duff

20th Century Fox presents a film directed by Shawn Levy. Written by Craig Titley, Joel Cohen, Sam Harper and Alec Sokolow. Based on the book by Frank B. Gilbreth Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey. Running time: 98 minutes. Rated PG (for language and some thematic elements)

Central Theme
Family IS the big dream and nothing much matters if we don’t build happy, healthy families.

In modern America, where the average family has 1.87 children, Tom Baker (Steve Martin) and wife Kate (Bonnie Hunt) have decided that life is better if not cheaper by the dozen.

The Bakers live in a small Illinois town where Tom coaches the local college football team. The family’s day-to-day life is marked by equal parts love and chaos-pet-frog-landing-in-the-breakfast eggs type of chaos.

When Tom is offered his dream job coaching a squad at a large university he and Kate uproot the family, much to the displeasure of all 12 children. At the same time, Kate learns that her memoirs are about to be published. Her agent whisks her away to New York to promote the book, leaving Tom home alone to handle the increasingly unhappy and hectic household, as well as his demanding new job.

With all hell breaking loose at home, Kate on the road, and Tom’s job on the line, the Baker family ultimately chooses not to have it all, but to love what they do have.
‚© 20th Century Fox

This movie values the family and for that message we can be grateful, but the plot is predictable and unrealistic and the performances are uninspired. The movie teaches good character but the characters are for the most part undeveloped and not believable. This COULD have been a great family film but it never quite gets there. It seems that Hollywood writers and producers are basing “family” movies on Hollywood version of families (sitcoms) instead of real-life typical families which don’t reflect authenticity makes you wonder if they have any actual experience with family, a subject matter they want to exploit but don’t understand.

Beliefs num
–Family is more important than career.
–Family takes time and energy and sacrifice.
–It is difficult to balance a demanding career with the demands of family.
–You can’t have it ALL, so you have to decide what matters most.
–Family matters most.
–Big families are fun and chaotic.

Questions Worth Discussing num
–What are the artistic merits of this film?
–What elements common to human experience did you resonate with in this film?
–What elements in word, deed, theme or behavior created a dissonance with who you are or want to be spiritually?
–What does this film tell us about who God is? Who humans are? What we are seeking in life?
–Is family the big dream?
–How did your parents balance career and family? What did you learn from that? How will you pull it off yourself?
–Is a big family a good idea?
–Are Kate and Tom “good “ parents? What makes a good parent?

Provocative Quotes byline
–As much as we wanted our big careers, we wanted our big family more.
–Chill or be chilled.
==Tom to one of the kids.
–They’re finally calling ME. (Asking them to follow him in this move)¢â‚¬¦If you DO we will be a stronger and happier family.
–I’m so glad I found someone whose dreams are as big as mine.
==Yearbook entry Tom to Kate.
–Thanks for ruining my life.
==Charlie to Dad.
–Day 14 on the alien planet.
==Kids reacting to new school and snooty neighborhood.
–In Milford (?) we were a family¢â‚¬¦now we’re a support system? A family is a support system.
–This is the moneymaker. I’m not that good an actor. This is how I get the jobs. I know that. I’m man enough to admit it.
==Hank about his face.
–I know you live near me now¢â‚¬¦but I have my OWN life¢â‚¬¦not ours. Mine!
==Nora finding her independence threatened by family obligations.
–You want to help me in the kitchen? Look at Grandmas’ picture? Say the rosary? Bake a pie?
==Kate to oldest daughter who is rebelling.
–You soaked his underwear in meat… funny, but wrong.
==Tom Baker to kids.
–Soak his underwear in meat. How do they come up with that? If I could only harness that ingenuity and make it into something constructive.
==Tom to Kate.
–If there’s no book tour there’s no book!
==Kate’s agent.
–He DIED on Easter¢â‚¬¦He was RAISED on Easter.
==Sorting out significance of Easter during a family photo shoot.
–You’re in over your head mister!
==Lamp repairman to Tom.
–That’s just not an option right now. I’ve got a big job. A job that I love.
==Tom putting work ahead of family.
–This is your shot. Your moment not theirs. I just don’t want you to blow it.
==Tom’s boss.
–What family? Since we moved here everybody has been looking out for number one¢â‚¬¦especially you and mom. I don’t have to stay here and pay the price for your life choices.
==Oldest son to Tom.
–Yes I have problems with that. This family is G-rated.
==Nora allows her boyfriend to sleep over.
–What can I say? You didn’t pick the best time to have a career.
==Tom to Kate.
–You do not want to come down here. It’s the farthest thing from a happy family.
==Oprah’s line crew warning her off.
–I knew one of your kids would turn up on a milk carton.
==Snooty neighbor when Mark runs away.
–Family IS the big dream¢â‚¬¦if I screw up my kids¢â‚¬¦nothing will matter much.
==Tom puts his career in perspective.
–Twelve¢â‚¬¦the number of times I’m happy each day there is such a thing as family.
–The unspoken assumption was that the father was the center of authority, he knew best, and his wife was his loyal co-pilot. We know now that this model is a case of sexist chauvinism. Gilbreth’s view of fathers is long out of date, and American men survive in the movies only as examples of incompetence, unrealistic ambition and foolish pride. Gene Siskel once started a list of movies with fathers in them, to demonstrate that Hollywood preferred whenever possible to have single mothers and avoid fathers altogether. If there had to be a father, he was (a) in a comedy, the butt of the joke, and (b) in a drama, a child abuser, an alcoholic, an adulterer, an abandoner of families, or preferably, all of the above. At some point during a half-century of Hollywood fathering, “father knows best” was replaced by shut your “pie hole.”
==Roger Ebert compares father’s role in the original Cheaper by the Dozen to this one.

Posted in Movies, Staublog in December 14, 2003 by | No Comments »

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