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CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN

Review by Chastity Campbell

Starring: Steve Martin, Bonnie Hunt, Hilary Duff, Ashton Kutcher, Piper Perabo, Tom Welling
Director: Shawn Levy
Video: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen & 1.33:1 Standard Fullscreen
Audio: 5.1 Dolby Digital, Surround
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Features: See Review
Release Date: April 6, 2004

“Hey Dad, don’t hide in the closet, take it like a man, hehehehehehe!”

Film ***

Research tells us that the average family consists of 4.5 people.  Two parents, two children, and the family dog, which only counts as half a point, since they can’t clean, do dishes, or use the bathroom properly…indoors!

In Cheaper by the Dozen, starring Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt, you will come to realize that the term average doesn’t apply in any way shape or form to these people!

It seems that when Tom Baker and his wife Kate decide to do something, they do it in the biggest way possible!  First off let me introduce you to their children.  There’s, Lorraine, Norah, Charlie, Henry, Sarah, Jake, Jessica, Kim, Mark, Mike, Nigel, and Kyle.  My mother had trouble keeping me and my sisters’ names straight, can you imagine what these people go through?

The Bakers live in rural Midland, Illinois where the fields are green, the air is clear, and they’ve got a farm that makes having even twelve kids bearable. 

When Tom is offered the job of his dreams coaching football at his alma matter, there’s lots of crying, begging and pleading, but to the children’s dismay, it’s off to the Windy City for the Baker clan. 

They’re in their new place for two weeks when Kate gets a call from her publisher that sets the family into a tailspin.  It seems her book, Cheaper By The Dozen, has been picked up, and they want her in New York to get the ball rolling.  The trip is only supposed to last for three days, but Murphy’s law steps in, and mom’s gone for two weeks.

Tom’s a tough guy; he’s done the dad bit before, and he’s more than willing to step up to the plate to face this challenge.  However, the force is not with Mr. Mom, and all hell breaks loose on the home front.

I have never had the pleasure of watching the original Cheaper By The Dozen, but I have no doubt that it was as hilarious and exciting as this version.   This story seems fresh and new compared to other regurgitated Hollywood storylines.  From the reason they move, all the way down to each individual character’s personality, there isn’t a dull moment in this film.  

Steve Martin hasn’t lost a step.  He’s still as physical an actor as he was back in the good old days when he played that loveable jerk.  Martin’s character in this film is really well suited to his acting style.  He’s funny, quick with the wit, and always entertaining.  I wish I could have been on set for the filming of this movie.  It would have been absolutely hysterical!

After viewing this film, there is no way anyone other than the lovely and talented Bonnie Hunt could have played the part of Kate.  She brought her free flowing humorous style and quick comebacks right out into the spotlight with this film, and I have to say it’s some of her best work.  She was perfect as the in control mom, and equally as good as the freaked out my-life-is-upside-down mom you’ll see toward the end of the movie.  I can’t say enough about how wonderful this woman is.  I hope to see a lot more from her in the future!

The parents were great, but the kids were totally awesome.  This movie had one huge lineup of, “A” crowd actors.  Tom Welling, who plays Clark Kent on the WB’s, Smallville, signed on to play the brooding teenager Charlie, while Piper Perabo, playing the eldest child, Norah, got to spend most of her time snuggled up with That 70’s Show hottie Ashton Kutcher!  I hope Demi didn’t mind lending him out for a few weeks to Ms. Perabo!   Hillary Duff, who is mega hot right now with the tween crowd, added her name to the list, playing the part of Tom and Kate’s fashion diva daughter Lorraine!  These three actors were very easy to watch on the big screen, as well as in my living room.  I really look forward to seeing what direction they take as their careers continue on that upward spiral.   

What about the rest of them you ask?  Well the rest of the kids were much younger than the three Hollywood stars listed above, but they did a marvelous job from start to finish.  Great delivery of lines, and they made each character fit into the family in their own unique way.  From the types of stunts they pulled, right down to their silly arguments, you start to really feel like these kids are all one big family!

One of the funniest things to watch for is the outtakes at the end of the film.  This group of actors and actresses had so much fun filming this movie.  One of my favorites is a scene between Bonnie Hunt and Tom Welling that is just too funny for words.  You definitely do not want to miss these outtakes!

This movie is full of laughter, love, annoyed parents, and precocious children.  You and your family will definitely enjoy sitting down to Cheaper By The Dozen.  Not to mention the newfound respect you’ll have for families that exceed the average of 4.5 per household!  

Video ***

It’s a double video bonanza because this disc is reversible!   On one side you get a 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen transfer that is pretty darn flawless.  No dirt or graininess was visible and the colors seemed to literally pop right off the screen.

On the other side of this DVD you get a 1.33:1 Standard Fullscreen version that is every bit as good as the Widescreen.  The only difference is the amount of picture lost on each side of the screen, but with a movie like this, you’ll hardly miss it.

Audio ***

This DVD was certainly very well put together in the Audio department.  The 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround was pretty much flawless, with a wonderful balance between dialogue and music bed. 

The sound effects were hilarious, and perfectly timed to match everything happening on screen.  The soundtrack was wonderfully scored, with a really nice blend of different music types and styles.  Normally I would have to say that so many different styles couldn’t possibly work together, but it did, without missing a beat!

Features ***

Well, there aren’t quite a dozen features on this disc, but there is enough to keep you happy for quite a while.

For starters there is full-length audio commentary by director Shawn Levy, or if you prefer another take on things, you can listen to full-length audio commentary by the terrible twelve, the Baker kids!

Deleted and extended scenes with optional commentary are included to show you the scenes that were too graphic for younger eyes, or well things that would have made the movie longer than the director intended. 

The Director’s Viewfinder featurette is the best on the disc in my opinion.   Director Shawn Levy takes you on a very detailed behind the scenes look at the making of this movie, from his initial reading of the script, all the way through production. 

There is a section on upcoming projects from Fox, and the 20th Century searchlight chose to shine on Garfield, the movie!

Language options in English, Spanish, and French are available if you parlez vous Francaise, or if you habla Espanol!

Summary:

Nothing about this DVD was cheap!  From the story itself, to the video quality, right on down to the audio levels, everything hit in just the right spot to create a high quality disc!  Add to this already wonderful list, a descent set of extra features, and you will not want to be without this DVD!  Oh yeah, if you’re a fan of buying in bulk, these DVDs are Cheaper By The Dozen.