The new Cheaper by the Dozen feels less like a feature and more like a lengthy sitcom pilot. It’s an assembly line product with no personality.
This is rumored to be the third film adaptation of the 1948 semi-autobiographical novel of the same name, although it bears no resemblance to previous versions, save for an unusually large family. The names, occupations, period, ethnicities – even the number of children – have all changed (here “dozen” apparently refers to 10 children plus two adults, though it’s kind of four adults, and that kills the title joke… However). This is a blended family with two devout parents (Zach Braff as Paul and Gabrielle Union as Zoey) who run a diner where most of the children work.
Brace yourself for an extensive heist, every hit at a time. Aggressive cheek is exhausting. Perhaps everything is appropriately constructed for its target audience, whoever that may be.
What really daunts any hope of sympathy is that it’s not actually about family or parenthood or even the kids, much less the extraordinary, day-to-day challenges of raising such a large brood. The house is incredibly clean and quiet for 10 children. While financial struggles are instantly healed by a deus ex machina, the emotional toll of such a daunting task is little appreciated. And the inner life of the children is hardly explored. They are more or less props. Emotional truth is sacrificed on the altar of fabricated laffs, with two fs.
There’s an unattractive story of Paul not being sure about Zoey’s NFL superstar ex. That is abruptly shelved and replaced by the conflicting widget that makes the business take off and Paul dedicates more time to it. For no apparent reason, Paul refuses to involve Zoey in fundamental discussions despite her marketing degree.
“Thanks for being so average and relatable, Paul,” spoken by one of the kids, is one of the few funny lines, but it’s also fitting on a meta-level: Paul seems to have been statistically average, nonthreateningly, focused , nice model.
Braff and Union are engaging actors with polished comic timing; Braff’s delivery and physical comedy are still there and Union is fun to watch. But there is no chemistry – seemingly intentional. Probably suspended below a clinically tested level of sexy thought, with no visceral appeal. There’s a moment when they think about putting it on, but it’s quickly torpedoed by all those cute kids piling up on their bed.
The film creates a few crumbs of social comment as Zoey tells her young black kids that they can’t take their toy guns out of the house, immediately followed by images of white kids doing just that. But that’s not explored or even explained to those who might need to hear that’s a thing.
As always, June Diane steals scenes from Raphael, this time as a “Karen” type neighbor. But while the theme of the film is reportedly “Family.” above all‘, it also contains materialistic messages that do not evoke behavior, such as B. the children who receive gifts from dad after a long absence and then run away instead of connecting with him.
With this “cheaper” the buyer is on guard.
‘Cheaper in dozens’
Rated: PG for thematic elements, stimulating material and language
Running time: 1 hour, 47 minutes
Play: Streaming March 18 on Disney+
https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/movies/story/2022-03-17/review-cheaper-by-the-dozen-gabrielle-union-zach-braff ‘Cheaper by the Dozen’ Criticism: The third time is not a stimulus