Cheaper by the Dozen 2 is not the first time we’ve watched two films in a series separately for BMT, but it does kind of fly in the face of some of the measures that Patrick and I have taken in constructing BMT. We have slowly built up to consuming all relevant media when watching a film. So for Endless Love I read the book, watched the original film, and watched the 2011 film. For Paul Blart we watched the original as a bonus film when tackling Paul Blart 2. So this is a bit of a relic of yore. Now we probably would have watched both films at the same time (and read the book and watched the original film and…) but instead we are just watching this film a year later trying to remember what we thought of the first one. As I remember it I found the first to be a thoroughly depressing adaptation of a very good book with OK acting. Unsurprisingly the second film is a not quite as depressing but infinitely shoddier version of the first film. Lower the stakes and up the physical comedy and voila. Not particularly satisfying.
Patrick and I have been workshopping the Settings 101 class. Really trying to hammer out the details on what make a good setting for a film. For Cheaper by the Dozen 2 we get a surprisingly solid settings film. Now, it’s not as good as the first film. In the first film the crux of the plot is the family moving from Midland, Indiana to Evanston, Illinois to coach at the imaginary Illinois Polytechnic University. Look at those settings! It screams ‘Illinois!’ at the audience. That’s probably an A- (we’re tough graders). In the second film the family is still living in Illinois and decides that they have to go to the lake house in Wisconsin. While kudos to them for going all in on a specific setting again, it wasn’t as clear this time exactly where they were going. In fact I kind of missed it until later in the film when the oldest son and Jaime King talked about moving to Wisconsin to pursue their dreams. So I kinda have to give it a C+. It would have gotten into the B or B+ range if they had been clearer. Maybe passing a “Welcome to Wisconsin” sign when driving to the lake or just printing it on the screen. I call that a meta-acknowledgement. Where the film itself nods to the audience and says “in case you didn’t know where we were.”
‘Ello everyone! Cheaper by the Dozen Two?! More like Sequel Repercussions, Boo! (does that make sense? It felt good writing it). We went full on BMTquel, a very rare double BMT delight (Grown Ups and Growns Ups 2 come to mind for sure, not sure about other sequels). Let’s get into it!
- The Good – I do think the “family comedy” genre is necessary for the world. I for one enjoyed things like The Great Outdoors growing up even though that movie is objectively terrible in retrospect, but I was like eight, why worry about movies like this? The tom-boy girl was fantastic in this film as well. Maybe the best kid actor in BMT history.
- The Bad – It is a movie that you can kind of see the seams of its movie costume in. It doesn’t feel like a real movie. It is like a producer was like “What? The stupid remake of Cheaper by the Dozen made money, shit … I guess make another one. I have this script for The Great Outdoors 2 which makes no sense and stars the ghost of John Candy, can you rewrite this?” The movie legit stars 25 different people and is excruciating for 95% of the runtime. I really didn’t enjoy this film for a variety of reasons, but mainly because it just felt like a throwaway.
- The BMT – Yes! I’m actually surprised it isn’t higher than the 40 something that it was. It is a kids movie, but again, it is kind of the worst the genre has to offer in a way. I should have put Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt in the good category to a degree, they clearly ad-libbed all of their lines, and they are solid as rocks, but still, the movie is super weak and I didn’t like it at all.
Boom. Audio Sklog-entary review. So this one was again just the director. This guy was pretty funny and had some good anecdotes … but was also kind of hilariously down on the movie. Everything seemed rushed, he was wrangling 20 kids at all times, and in addition to that he had to deal with the fact that Tom Welling, Hilary Duff and the twin boys (who were on Desperate Housewives at the time) were almost literally not on set all together at any given time. The guy did admirably (and was also weirdly obsessed with the noises his stomach was making throughout), but still not as good as if there was a second person to get the stories out of him. B. One of the better single person commentaries I’ve listened to thus far.
BTW I want to Reboot Cheaper by the Dozen haaaaard. Just to make Steve Martin a competent football coach / father. Example: Tom Welling is meandering around like a weirdo in both films at this point. Why not make him become the assistant coach? Why not show Steve Martin do something with his family? He talked about kids being “hardwired”, but seriously, his son liked football, he didn’t hate it, it makes no sense that all of a sudden he’s opening a garage in rural Wisconsin. One of the more frustrating storyline issues with both movies in this series. I’ll do the remake for a dime. No joke.