An unnecessary, but good-natured Baker’s Dozen.
Zach Braff and Gabrielle Union play Paul and Zoe Baker, two “Cheaper by the Dozen” parents, who have a lot of kids of their own. To clarify, they don’t have 12 kids by themselves. In fact, they have 10 of them. And in reality, they’re a blended family, like in “The Brady Bunch” and “Step by Step,” and yes, even that piece of crap “Blended.” Paul was married to his stage co-star Kate (Ericka Christensen), while Zoe was married to the football superstar Dom Clayton (Timon Kyle Durrett). One thing led to another. Paul and Zoe marry and add two sets of twins to their tribe.
Released on Disney+, this is the third film version of the book by Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr. and his sister Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, after Clifton Webb and Myrna Loy in 1950 and Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt in 2003. It’s unnecessary and corny at times, but it does have its heart in the right place about a mixed blended family having their concerns about their kids experiencing racism. Unlike “Coffee & Kareem,” which had some characters criticizing the relationship between Ed Helms and Taraji P. Henson because of their race, it’s not mean or cold, but rather sweet and sentimental. Kudos to writers Kenya Barris and Jenifer Rice-Genzuk Henry for expressing the themes on a family friendly basis.
And plus, it’s miles, miles better than “Home Sweet Home Alone,” which was also also spun off from the Fox movies and released on Disney+.
As the family grows, Paul and Zoe own a family restaurant- a “Mom and Pop and Daughter and Daughter and Son and Daughter Restaurant”-while Kate is now the family babysitter and Dom plans to retire. Paul is planning to put his special sauce on the market, and so far, he has a chance to start a company. That means he can immediately buy a fancy house outside of L.A. And that means the family starts to fall apart.
There are too many kids for me to stay focused on, but kids will still have fun with some of the antics, while their parents may enjoy some of its poetic values on mixed families. Of course, you have to deal with some cliches like Paul’s sister being in rehab and asking him to watch her troubled teenage son Seth (Luke Prael) or the would-be basketball star Deja (Journee Brown) having a boyfriend Simeon Othello Daise). But there’s something likable inside the movie that actually makes care about some of the characters and their directions in life.
Braff has versatility as the dad, Durrett is miles better than Mark Wahlberg in
“Daddy’s Home” as the other dad who returns and wants to do better, Prael has a certain Ryder Strong spark in him that I liked, Christensen has a fun tone, and Brown is also able to express her attitude and spirit. These are the actors I liked in the movie, while Union has to make some annoying faces, and the Daniels twins Brittney and Cynthia have to be the least bit interesting actresses in the film.
This “Cheaper by the Dozen” isn’t a perfect movie, but unlike “Home Sweet Home Alone” or “Daddy’s Home” or “Coffee & Kareem,” you actually share your sympathy for some of the characters. And again, the themes are expressed in a family friendly nature, instead of resorting to weapons or cursing or slurs. So appreciate that, guys.
Premieres on Disney+ Tomorrow