The Bakers live in a small town in Illinois, USA, with their children - all 12 of them! When Tom Baker (Steve Martin) is offered his dream job as a baseball coach at a large university, he and his wife Kate (Bonnie Hunt) uproot the family, promising them that life will be even better. Shortly after moving to their new home in the big city, Kate learns that her book has been accepted by a publisher. Kate┬┤s agent pulls her away to promote the book after Tom agrees to deal with their 12 children who are desperately unhappy in their new surroundings, and his demanding new job. Hell breaks out while Kate is away and Tom is in danger of losing his dream job.
12 children in a room with Steve Martin, mixed with the firm and consequential love of Bonny Hunt, should produce a very good film. But unfortunately, Hollywood has just tried too hard by attempting to re-create organic family life in a sloppy syrup of superficiality. All the child caricatures are there: the evil twins, the red-headed and bespectacled boy who loves frogs and who feels left out, the conniving tomboy who masterminds ways to sabotage a calm family life, the sullen but extraordinarily good-looking, athletic, older brother, and the oldest daughter who is desperately trying to lead her own life.
The film squeezes this chaotic family into moulds we┬┤ve seen a million times before. The frog jumps into the scrambled eggs at the breakfast table, the teenage girl hogs the bathroom, the boyfriend throws rocks at the window to get his girlfriend┬┤s attention (quite a script flaw in this age of mobile telephones). "Cheaper by the Dozen" tries to create cosy family familiarity and in the process flattens the bigger issues such as how to assert (and give up) your will in a modern household.
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