Disney’s remake of Cheaper by the Dozen is not for anyone who has a fondness for the 1950s original or the pair starring Steve Martin. He plays Tom Baker, the patriarch, attempting to balance the life of a parent and football coach. The latter included a cast of well-known talents from popular 90s and early 00 television shows, namely Tom Welling and Hilary Duff, which made tuning into a must. Other notables include Liliana Mumy who was the voice of Lilo (and Stitch).
With this latest, it’s hard to tell who wants to be the breakout star because, by default, to keep track of a dozen modern day talents (some from Disney’s in-house pool and others curated) means being able to watch the screenplay from Kenya Barris and Jennifer Rice-Genzuk Henry. They’re putting pages from the original book (allegedly), the previous films, The Brady Bunch and The Loud House into a blender in hopes nobody would recognise where they’re drawing ideas from.
Andre Robinson is the voice of Clyde in The Loud House animated series, and the choice to cast him was on purpose. Erika Christensen starred in Parenthood, and while this comedy gained many nominations, choosing this actress certainly didn’t elevate this work by much.
What made the 2003 film memorable is the sports theme. Tom’s ability to take a college football team to the next level is a contrast to his inability to manage his own family unit at home. He can’t treat his kids the same way. The 2005 sequel expands on this premise by showing what’d happen if he did, and Eugene Levy is the perfect foil in what drives the two father-figures. The premise of Paul Baker (Zach Braff) expanding his restaurant business (because of a best selling secret sauce) and being away from the children in this modern version isn’t as relatable.
What I enjoyed from those last films is the bond Steve Martin had with the many young performers. Shawn Levy nicely handled that dynamic when he directed those works. Although he has executive producer credit in the latest, I doubt he was even on set to help guide this work.
Instead, Gail Lerner directs this update and Braff literally Scrubs through the content. This actor isn’t all that convincing, and he has the help of his ex wife and current one to raise the kids. Plus, nearly everyone will have some memory of Martin in their mind because there’ll be certain generations who’ll know the past versions better.
To come in fresh might help, but even that’s a stretch.
2 Stars out of 5