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Cast charms in fun family comedy

Trevor Gass | Wednesday, February 4, 2004

Imagine what it would be like to be taking 12 classes this semester. Now, instead of them being divvied up M-W-F or T-Th, what if they were every single day? Throw in a full time job on top of all that, and welcome to Tom Baker’s (Steve Martin) world in Cheaper by the Dozen. This update from 1950 is the story of a family coping with their move from their long time home in Illinois when Tom gets his dream job working as the head football coach for his alma mater, Northwestern.The movie follows the family’s transition from easy country living to life in Chicago and the hilarious conflict that ensues. For the Baker children, adjusting to their new surroundings proves to be an uneasy task, finding that they don’t quite fit in with this new “urban culture.” The story takes a twist when the mom, Kate (Bonnie Hunt), is swept away from the family to New York. Her book, based on the memoirs of her family of 12, has finally been published and her public relations manager tells her that it will sell only if she goes on a publicity tour for two weeks. The lifelong dreams of both Tom and Kate have now been answered, but they soon find that when some dreams become reality, a nightmare ensues.Each child in this baker’s dozen has their own set distinct characteristics and personalities, and the directors made a good effort in having each one contribute to the story. There’s the jock, the troublemaker, the prep, the skater, etc. Each has their own role in the movie, whether it be to add more conflict to the plot or to simply make the audience laugh, which is a frequent occasion when Kate leaves Tom alone with the kids.Balancing his fulltime coaching job at Northwestern and the lives of twelve other people, Tom attempts to develop a winning team while keeping the family he loves intact. He fails miserably. Not only do his kids begin loathing their once loveable father but also the university finds that Tom’s attention to his family is having adverse effects on their team’s performance. It comes to everybody’s attention that though Tom can be a great coach and a great father, in this case, he cannot do both. The choice comes down to work or family, a question that many still face in today’s world.If you broke up this movie’s main concepts into three categories, you would end up with family, family and family. Not surprisingly, that’s what this movie is about. Overall Cheaper by the Dozen is a light comedy with a wholesome family feel, if somewhat unoriginal due to the obvious personality stereotypes that were assigned to each of the children.Go into this movie ready to laugh, but don’t expect to get any inspirationally groundbreaking ideas on how to raise twelve kids. This movie won’t be seen at the Oscars at any rate, but there’s nothing saying that it’s not a good choice to go out and see with friends (or family).