Publicity Stills of "Cheaper By The Dozen 2"
(Courtesy of 20th Century Fox)

Genre: Comedy
Director: Adam Shankman
Starring: Steve Martin, Bonnie Hunt, Hilary Duff, Tom Welling, Piper Perabo, Eugene Levy,
Carmen Elektra
RunTime: 1 hr 34 mins
Released By: 20th Century Fox
Rating: PG

Opening Day : 26 January 2006

Synopsis :

Tom Baker (Steve Martin) and wife Kate (Bonnie Hunt), hoping to bring their family together for a memorable summer vacation, take their 12 offspring to the rustic Lake Winnetka. But their retreat soon becomes cutthroat when they enter into a competition with the over-achieving members of a large family headed by Tom’s long-time rival, Jimmy Muraugh (Eugene Levy).

Movie Review:

The rowdy Baker family is back, larger and feistier! This time round we witness the rivalry between the Baker household and longtime family foe, the Murtaughs.

Having watched the Cheaper by the Dozen (2003) which taught a thing or two about family values, I had expect the sequel to sink Hollywood’s most fertile family into nothing more than pathetic slapstick wannabe with recycled jokes, trying to cash in on former glory. Well, glory did return with the wives of the two households on their ‘ahems!’ I know it is supposed to be a family picture, but hey, Carmen Electra is all over the place!

Cheaper by the Dozen 2 revived old gags, (can’t believe they used the dog-lurching-at-meat prank again!) in fact this entire family comedy is familiarly recycled from its predecessor, not that it stinks of forgery semblance, instead, the sequel whiff of sweet reminisce of the Baker kids and their unique family culture. Director Adam Shankman (famous for light comedies like Bringing Down the House (2003) and The Pacifier (2005).) tried not to upstage the winning formula by being too radical with his direction, that perhaps also affiliate with the limitations of crafting a family sequel. Rather, this latest installment choose to explore the growth of the Baker family and the competition of the two family heads. (Steve Martin and Eugene Levy)

While the last film followed the struggle of trying to stay together as one support system, this one tells a revelation of letting go when it’s time. An absolute parenting philosophy. Tom, the father (Steve Martin) of the Baker household went on to contests that inevitability by rounding his twelve children plus one son-in-law to Lake Winnetka for one last cabin vacation. There they met Tom’s childhood rival Jimmy Murtaugh (Eugene Levy), his trophy wife (Carmen Electra) and their eight kids! What should follow is a path of infinite mischief and mayhem. Though things got blown up and golf cart drove into walls, it is still not as chaotic as the first show. Much damage control was experienced, and things didn’t turn much exhilarating, as I would expect when it has all the potential and the imagination to. This is the Baker family we are talking about!

Teen idols (Tom Welling and Hilary Duff) or not, this is solely a Steve Martin show. In my opinion, Steve comes from a long hard line of actors (Morgan Freeman, Jake Gyllenhaal and Tobey Maguire, etc…) whom often played themselves too much into their roles. It’s like watching Steve Martin playing himself in Father of the Bride (1991) all over again. His acting is bland and predictable. What is worth highlighting is Eugene Levy who is more famous as Jim’s Dad (American Pie’s trilogy), his performance as competitive father is subtly roughish and a refreshing treat to watch.

To survive the Baker’s family and come out of the cinema not learning a thing or two about family is a shame. Cheaper by the Dozen is not entirely a disaster comedy with nothing intelligent to offer. The last installment conveys a message of how family ties can require self-sacrifices, even at the expense of their dreams. This flick in turn explore about the collision of different style of parenting, which I think is something our local parents can learn from.

Cheaper by the Dozen 2 is a decent family production, in which its strongest liability is that it can be better appreciated, chaperoned with knowledge from its first film. Trust me folks, it would be funnier if you had experience the initial Baker family before you catch this one on the silver screen.

Movie Rating:

(Cheaper by the Dozen returns, proving that the size of a family does indeed matter!)

Review by Ang Wei Kiat

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