Directed by: Adam Shankman
Starring: Steve Martin, Bonnie Hunt, Eugene Levy, Hillary Duff
Cheaper by the Dozen 2 is full of good messages: Families are wonderful and bigger families are more wonderful. Families should do lots of things together because kids grow up before you know it. And the hardest thing all parents have to do is let their kids go.
The nature of movie messages is that adults get them but kids don't. Which is why parents and grandparents may like Cheaper 2, but kids won't.
Facing the reality that his older children are leaving the roost, the Baker family's easy-going Dad (Steve Martin, Shopgirl) arranges a summer reunion with all 12 kids at the family's old lakeside rental cabin. He dreams of pleasures from days gone by, such as roasting marshmallows and camping out under the stars. Mom (Bonnie Hunt, Loggerheads) smiles wanly and lets Dad play out his patriarch fantasies. But across the lake, high school rival Jimmy Murtaugh (Eugene Levy, The Man) has established a palatial mansion full of high-tech toys. He tirelessly gloats about his wealth and the accomplishments of his brood, which he has raised with a discipline-heavy hand. Competition between the fathers sets in, of course, and each clan must follow paternal pressure. Meanwhile, Romeo-and-Juliet romances blossom.
Cheaper 2 is predictable and visually ordinary. Worse, considering the large number of children in the movie, it shows a disturbing lack of recognition for mothers. If, like me, you're into movies about big families, you'll be much more rewarded with Yours, Mine and Ours, which sparkles with an equal level of parental influence, a sweet romance and vibrantly colorful sets and costumes. Rated PG for some crude humor and mild language.
-- reviewed by Marcianne Miller