Welcome to this blog of my film reviews. Some have been drafted carefully on paper, others I have sat and typed. I'm going to make it clear right now that I don't expect you to agree with my (re)views, or to like my style of writing. However, I want my views to be just out there and open, as a person who wishes to express himself from deep within. Feel free to comment and debate with me, but I do ask that you are civil and not harsh, as any comments which are basically swear words and insults will automatically be deleted. Also any text that is in orange (and often bold) is a Hyperlink to either a source, or a previous post for background reference.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Cheaper by the Dozen


Parents of twelve Tom (Steve Martin) and Kate (Bonnie Hunt) get the chance for a richer life in Chicago when Tom gets offered his dream job. However, their kids don't want to move and soon relationships in the family are getting more and more awkward and tense.

The children are about the best thing in this film. With the exception of Shane and Brent Kinsman - who play identical twins Kyle and Nigel - none of them are blood relatives, yet their on screen relationships still feel reasonably siblingesque. They bicker on and off, the younger siblings often look up to the older siblings, and when they want to get rid of Hank (Ashton Kutcher), older sister Nora's (Piper Perabo) arrogant, kid-hating boyfriend they work as a team to pull off the meanest pranks possible. These are all found in sibling relationships, so even if the kids aren't brilliant actors yet (the younger nine were all under fifteen when they made this film so it is excusable) there is still a level of authenticity due to this.

Everything else about the film is a let down though, and it all stems from the screenplay. It has little character development, yet vast amounts of over-the-top physical comedy, making the characters little more than props used to create cheap laughs. Laughs? The most you'll be able to manage in this film is the odd weak chuckle here and there. The comedy is over-the-top cartoon style stuff, which can be funny in live action sometimes - Home Alone (1990) proved that - unless it is being churned out at about 150 miles an hour like it is here, each cartoon style sequence overlapping the one before, making it all pretty dam pointless and so bland you'll be almost glad when it's all over. As well as this they all end up looking pretty darn fake as they try to cram in so much that calling it a jumbled, over-the-top series of scenes is a slight understatement.

Such a below par screenplay is most likely the reason that so many of the adult performances are as poor as they are. Martin is very forced and altogether wooden as he tries to be funny and cheesy; and the on screen marriage he and Hunt have feels far too fake, even for a comedy. Now with Steve Martin I think it's a case of if the screenplay is good he is good - take Roxanne (1987) and Father of the Bride (1991) as two examples - but if the screenplay is poor then so is he, and sadly this film is an example of the latter. The poorest performance, naturally, comes from Kutcher, who is very overly arrogant, tries too hard to be cool, and is far too irritating and cocky he ruins the character from the word "Go"; although this is Ashton Kutcher and the last time he gave an even half-decent performance outside of That '70s Show (1998-2006) was, erm...never!

If the days when Steve Martin was great are fond in your memory then do not watch this film as it will only hurt and disappoint. If you're after a few cheap chuckles then you may as well nip down to Blockbuster and rent a copy for £1.

Steve Martin, Bonnie Hunt, Piper Perabo, Tom Welling, Hilary Duff, Kevin G. Schmidt, Alyson Stoner, Jacob Smith, Forrest Landis, Liliana Mumy, Morgan York, Blake Woodruff, Shane Kinsman, Brent Kinsman, Ashton Kutcher, Richard Jenkins, Steven Anthony Lawrence, Paula Marshall, Alan Ruck, Vanessa Bell Calloway.

Teen Choice nominations: Choice Breakout Movie Star - Male (Tom Welling), Choice Movie Blush (Hilary Duff), Choice Movie Hissy Fit (Ashton Kutcher), Choice Movie Liplock (Piper Perabo, Ashton Kutcher).

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