Fox // 2005 // 94 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Franck Tabouring (Retired) // January 18th, 2010
Same big family. Even bigger adventure.
Adam Shankman's Cheaper by the Dozen 2 is a pretty bad sequel to a decent remake. It's a movie that promotes a warmhearted message about the power of family, yes, but, to be honest, the world would have been perfectly fine without it. Twentieth Century Fox decided to re-release the family comedy on Blu-ray, and now you can watch Steve Martin and Eugene Levy battle it out in high definition.
As the film opens, Tom and Kate Baker (Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt) start to realize that they can't keep their twelve children at home forever. They are all growing up fast, and time has come for some of them to go their own way and start exploring the world. As devoted parents who've always wanted the best for their beloved kids, Tom and Kate obviously struggle with the departure of their eldest, so in order to celebrate the great years they've spent together under one roof, they decide to pack their bags and gather the whole troop for one last memorable summer getaway at Lake Winnetka.
Sadly, what was supposed to be a dream vacation quickly turns into a stressful catastrophe when Tom clashes with Jimmy Murtaugh (Eugene Levy, American Pie), an old rival and ruthless overachiever whose arrogant behavior and selfish attitude eventually provokes the Bakers to engage in a big sports competition between their two large families. With the big showdown approaching fast, the only thing Tom can think about is getting his gang in shape so he can clinch the win and finally put his rivalry with Jimmy behind him.
As I already mentioned in my opening statement, Cheaper by the Dozen 2 is quite simply an unnecessary sequel. I'm sure many young cinemagoers had a blast watching Steve Martin trying to control twelve kids and all, but that still doesn't make it a masterpiece. Harmlessness aside, there's nothing remotely hilarious about this family film, which is plagued by a tedious plot, shallow humor, and a lot of loud chaos I found to me more annoying than entertaining.
The script is obviously the film's biggest weakness, as it spends way too much time focusing on the unbelievably ridiculous rivalry between Tom and Jimmy, the two fathers who continuously act more childish than any of their own kids. I understand the humor of the film is supposed to be goofy and all, but the show Martin and Levy put on is downright embarrassing. Innovation is clearly nonexistent in this film, and it really starts to hurt soon after the Bakers clash with the Murtaughs.
Of course, the goal of the movie is to demonstrate that the children are way smarter than their parents because both families get along so well except for Tom and Jimmy, but to be honest, I can think of a million better ways to convey such a message than having two grownup fathers talking trash about each other. Yet, Martin and Levy get to jump around like hyperactive monkeys for 94 minutes while their kids are simply trying to have a good time.
Anyway, the rivalry between the Bakers and Murtaughs is moronic, really, and to be honest, it's rather boring as well. I don't understand why the screenwriters behind this project didn't go the extra mile and actually develop a decent story to promote their obviously universal messages. It's a shame, really, because I can see Cheaper by the Dozen 2 is filled with good intentions. It's just that none of them have been properly executed in an inspiring, original way.
Moving on to the technical aspects of this DVD, let's look at what this high-definition version of the film has to offer. The Blu-ray disc of Cheaper by the Dozen 2 offers a clean, sharp 2.35:1 widescreen presentation with solid image quality throughout. Both day and night sequences look really good, and the amount of grainy shots has been kept to a minimum while the popping colors in the film are quite strong. The disc also comes with a solid 5.1 DTS HD Master audio transfer, which means all the screaming an giggling we get to hear is crystal clear at all times.
The bonus material includes an audio commentary with Adam Shankman, who chats a lot about how much fun it was to work with all the kids on set. Besides a featurette centering on the challenge of finding several of the kid actors, the special features also boast "Camp Chaos" and "A Comedic Trio," two behind-the-scenes looks at what filming was like with all the children and how funny Steve Martin, Eugene Levy, and Bonnie Hunt are. None of these pieces are particularly entertaining, but they do offer a better insight into all the obvious fun everybody had on set.
Cheaper by the Dozen 2 isn't the worst family comedy out there, but it's not exactly a treat, either. All the usual slapstick we get to observe here gets boring really fast, and to be honest, there's barely anything really funny about this sequel. The movie works as a Saturday afternoon television diversion for younger viewers, but that's it.
Guilty. Both families are grounded.
Review content copyright © 2010 Franck Tabouring; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Rated PG