Cheaper by the Dozen isn’t the first remake of this particular title but the film finds a way to win audiences over with its heart.
If you’ve seen the previous films, you get the gist of it: a blended family of 12 and all the headaches, heartache, and, of course, the humor that comes with it. It really is a contemporary take because they include the exes in the film. Kate (Erika Christensen) is more involved at first than Dom (Timon Kyle Durrett) but nevertheless, they are a part of their children’s lives with Paul (Zach Braff) and Zoey (Gabrielle Union) married to each other. The older kids all have their own niche and the film takes advantage of newer social media technology, too.
The Bakers run their own restaurant, Baker’s Breakfast. It’s a family affair that involves many of the bigger kids while Kate looks after the littles. Paul has a special sauce and he’s pushing to expand the brand. This potential brand expansion comes as they relocate from Echo Park to Calabasas. Suffice it to say, this is easier said than done when executives have something else in mind.
Improv veterans Abby Elliott and June Diane Raphael are some of the moms in the moms group when Bakers move to Calabasas. There’s some cringe-worthy material during these scenes but it speaks to the racism of the day. Another improv veteran, Christina Anthony, has blink-and-miss it appearance at the airport.
It’s funny. A lot of people tend to view the 2003 film as the original film. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The first adaptation of the Frank Bunker Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey novel first came out in 1950. However, neither of the newer films–starting with the Shawn Levy film and subsequent sequel–really have any connection to the book. There’s a few references in the 2003 film but you wouldn’t know unless you were super familiar. Yes, this film is a remake but it still manages to have a lot of heart and keeps us entertained.
I can say a lot about my feelings on remakes and reboots. People flock to what they are familiar with in higher numbers. When you reboot a brand like Cheaper by the Dozen, it’s likely to be a hit. It would certainly be nice if studios would make a better effort to release original content. I mean, we’re talking about films that are going straight to streaming so surely, the studios can afford to take a risk. This is one of those things that I can discuss all day but I digress.
When I look at this film, I see it as less Cheaper by the Dozen and more of a film that takes a look at some of the issues that families are dealing with today. When Kate and Zoey show up when a few of the kids get in trouble, it’s easy to see why the receptionist would think they are lesbians. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course. It just proves to show that blended families exist and more of these stories need to be on screen. It’s really best to go into Cheaper by the Dozen without thinking of the film as a reboot but your mileage may vary.
DIRECTOR: Gail Lerner
SCREENWRITERS: Kenya Barris & Jenifer Rice-Genzuk Henry
CAST: Gabrielle Union, Zach Braff, Erika Christensen, Timon Kyle Durrett, Journee Brown, Kylie Rogers, Andre Robinson, Caylee Blosenski, Aryan Simhadri, Leo Abelo Perry, Mykal-Michelle Harris, Christian Cote, Sebastian Cote, and Luke Prael
Disney+ launches Cheaper by the Dozen on March 18, 2022. Grade: 3.5/5
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