Disney’s remake of CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN is almost impossible to watch because it’s rather uninspired and simply copies key moments of the 2003 film instead of offering a different story. This product has the feel of Disney wanting to scrub the Fox name off many properties that they are now managing.
With no other reason than to be modern, this version doesn’t understand what made the original and Steve Martin’s films entertaining. The aspect I enjoyed is the bond he had with the many young performers popular for the era–namely Hilary Duff, Tom Welling, Liliana Mumy and Piper Perabo to name a few. Wayne Knight even had an uncredited cameo!
One problematical point is that the previous films featured twelve kids whereas this latest varies it up. That’s no big deal since this movie is supposed to be based on the book of the same name, where only ten youths are known. The dozen in this modern family unit consists of two moms, one dad and nine kids–what’s going on?
Zach Braff of SCRUBS fame is the patriarch who tries to explain how this unit came together. He also narrates this film instead of the mother from the previous iteration. In what he describes is a family borne from theatre–almost. The comedy act isn’t all that hilarious, and he doesn’t have the gravitas to play a father. When considering this actor hasn’t been a parent at all, that sense is very evident. I found myself turning off this version and going back to watch Martin’s take because he’s the type of father figure I had around than this modern take.
The only selling point is in how the Bakers adopted children from other ethnicities (or married into) to expand the nest. There’s definitely some clever commentary being made about blended families, but it’s too muddled to really care. The humour just doesn’t work for those who are unfamiliar with the latest pop culture trends. That is, this movie is made for Generation Alpha to digest than any other demographic.
CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN is now streaming on Disney+.