What to Watch This Weekend: Cheaper by the Dozen

Cheaper By The Dozen

Cheaper by the Dozen (2022) is the story of the Baker family. Paul (Zach Braff) has married Zoe (Gabrielle) and along with their multitude of kids—from their current as well as former marriages—run a successful diner in New Jersey. While things are going well, the Bakers dream of a slightly better life especially if it includes a house with enough bathrooms. When an opportunity comes knocking for the diner to expand significantly, the whole family up and moves to a posh community. Once there however, the Bakers learn that the grass is not always greener on the other side.

What works in Cheaper by the Dozen (2022) are the gags and the straightforward approach to difficult societal issues. While the style of humor may not be for everyone, there are legitimately funny moments and sequences throughout. Parents will likely find a lot of kid-centric situations comically relatable, while younger audiences will latch onto the goofiness and physical pratfalls. In addition, director Gail Lerner leans into a direct path when discussing elements like racism, sexism, and general perceptions about a variety of topics. This level of honesty about problematic real-world stereotypes and prejudices is refreshing.

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People who don’t enjoy awkward humor, or films that try to tackle multiple plot lines may not enjoy Cheaper by the Dozen (2022) as much as others. Many of the jokes are “cringe-worthy” as people act wildly out of place to the point of embarrassment. For example, Paul has an important investor meeting, so he wears a suit. When he gets to the lobby, he sees modern teenagers in very different clothing. Thus, Paul changes into a mismatched assortment of his kids’ threads and looks ridiculous by anyone’s standards. Also, with so many kids (plus parents) in the family Cheaper by the Dozen (2022) simply doesn’t have the time to focus enough time on a central story. This snowballs into the movie wanting to say a lot with its messaging, but breezes through its morals without giving them the attention they deserve.

Cheaper by the Dozen as a franchise has had remarkable longevity when one remembers it began with a non-fiction book that was first adapted into a critically acclaimed movie in 1950. This spawned one sequel (Belles on Their Toes). From there, a fictional reboot yielded two movies in 2003 and 2005, both starring Steve Martin. While this version may be slightly disjointed, there’s something to be said for trying to take the concept in a new direction with the introduction of a cultural examination.

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