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Cheaper by the Dozen (2003)

The more… the scarier

Rating: 4/10

Running Time: 98 minutes

UK Certificate: PG

I made the gargantuan mistake of watching Roxanne the night before heading for the screening of Steve Martin’s latest comic venture, ‘Cheaper By The Dozen’. Roxanne is a film that shows old school Martin at the very pinnacle of his career, turning out in a mainstream film yet still managing to maintain every brilliant inch of his comic edge. ‘Cheaper By The Dozen’ just doesn’t stand a chance by comparison. Running like a sit-com pilot that somehow found its way to a big screen release, this is a harmless but also largely charmless family comedy. Martin plays Tom Baker, the father of a nightmarishly-large brood of TWELVE children. Thanks predominantly to the presence of wife Kate (Bonnie Hunt), the fam lead an enjoyable enough existence. But what happens when Mom takes a few days off to plug her new novel? You’ve guessed it – Dad loses the plot. There’s nothing particularly dislikeable about ‘Cheaper By The Dozen’. It’s aimed chiefly at an audience of ankle-biters and, going by the reasonable reaction of those in attendance at this particular screening, it does the job well enough. What makes it all feel a bit peculiar though – given that it’s been given a mid-February UK release – is that there’s a bit of a Christmas theme running through the whole thing. Not only does that cause mass audience confusion, but it also results in inevitable comparisons with the vastly-superior Elf, which really showed how a family Chrimbo movie should be done. As for Mr Martin – well, there’s no getting round the fact that he looks old and tired in this one. He can still go through the motions with the sort of competence his inferiors can only dream of, but this ‘Parenthood’ retread shows him as a shadow of his former self. I take no pleasure in saying it, but his spark seems to have long since left him. Still – we’ll always have Roxanne.

It's Got: More kids than you could shake an exceptionally large stick at. Not that I’m suggesting you should do that, even if you could.

It Needs: Some serious nap time.


You’ll long for the Steve Martin of old. Ah yes, those were the days.