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Dozen not as Cheap as title suggests

Dismal moods often generate the tension in families, which can trigger a contagious virus of unhappy family syndrome. In a large family, chaos often reigns with an unrelenting, iron fist.

Cheaper by the Dozen was originally a novel written by Ernestine Gilbreth Carey and Frank B. Gilbreth. Gilbreth’s father, Frank Gilbreth, Sr. specialized in motion study and fathered twelve children who served as test subjects in his experiments.

The 2003 remake of the movie illustrates Tom [Steve Martin] and Kate [Bonnie Hunt] Baker and their twelve children. Tom coaches a college football team in small-town Illinois and Kate is a former news reporter who is now stay at home mom. While supervising a dozen kids, she manages to write a book, entitled Cheaper by the Dozen, about the life of her family.

When Tom is offered a job in the big-city coaching his dream team, the Stallions, he and Kate, to the displeasure of their kids, transfer the family to begin a new chapter in their life. Almost as soon as Kate sets her bags down in the new house, she packs up and leaves for New York to promote her book. Tom assures her that he can handle the family for the three days she is gone.

Kate is then asked to stay longer to go on a three-week tour to further endorse her book. Things quickly begin falling apart at home. Tom’s new job gains momentum faster than he can grasp, and he starts to become blind to the rampant problems with his kids. Eldest son, Charlie [Tom Welling], quickly begins losing interest in finishing high school while the younger kids have trouble fitting in at school and get into fights.

Students may connect with Charlie who struggles with family and high school life. He often fights with his dad and threatens to leave home. He struggles with leaving behind his childhood home and his girlfriend. Charlie finds himself on the brink of fist-fights at school and is harassed by his football teammates.

“I can relate to the kids’ feelings towards moving,” Corinne Pogue, ’06, said. “They [the Bakers] were leaving all their friends behind like I did when I moved. I didn’t want to move. I was extremely nervous.”

Family modifications are made in the movie also. The conflict between the oldest daughter Nora, [Piper Perabo] and her egotistical boyfriend, Hank [Ashton Kutcher] keeps the audience wondering if she will ever leave him. To the more conservative viewer, dating morals may bring up a red light with their relationship.

“I didn’t like the part when the guy [Hank] sneaks up to his girlfriend’s room,” Pogue said. “You think that she was going to stop living with her boyfriend when she moved back home, and then he comes over and she brings him up,” Pogue said.

Conflicts like this relationship contribute to plot movement and keep the audience engaged in the story. The resolutions in the closing stages nearly have you on your feet cheering. As adjustments are made, family life for the Bakers settles down, for the most part, and things go back to “normal.”

If a light-hearted comedy is what you seek, Cheaper by the Dozen is great for laughs. Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt are the two people that stand out for bringing mature acting and experience to the film that keeps the audience amused.

Cheaper by the Dozen is rated PG for language and some thematic elements. It is playing at theaters nationwide including Edwards at River Park shopping center.

For more on Cheaper by the Dozen, visit www.cheaperbythedozenmovie.com or www.hollywood.com.

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