Lisa Schwarzbaum
July 31, 2012 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Cheaper by the Dozen (Movie - 2003)

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
PG
runtime
98 minutes
Wide Release Date
12/25/03
performer
Bonnie Hunt, Steve Martin, Hilary Duff, Ashton Kutcher, Piper Perabo, Tom Welling
director
Shawn Levy
distributor
20th Century Fox Film Corporation
author
Sam Harper
genre
Comedy, Kids and Family

We gave it a B

In the innocuously chipper family comedy Cheaper by the Dozen, Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt represent a new paradigm of two-career sitcom parenthood in a feature-length format: They’re sparky gender equals, simultaneously raising their brood of 12 and ogling one another’s adult butts to suggest that the two still have a swell sex life and a sense of humor. I wish Martin’s Tom and Hunt’s Kate would make full use of the comic stars’ sardonic specialities. But that ain’t scheduled in this sprightly, updated remake of a 1950 movie from a 1948 memoir of growing up in a turn-of-the-century household.

Back then, Papa was an efficiency expert — how square. Now, Dad’s a college football coach, Mom’s on a publicity tour for her book (about raising the dozen), and the kids act out with genial rebellion to suit every target audience group and child-development phase. The 12-pack includes ”Coyote Ugly”’s Piper Perabo as adult daughter Nora, ”Smallville”’s Tom Welling as the eldest son, and ”Lizzie McGuire”’s Hilary Duff as a teenager who’s, like, sooo ready to star in ”Lizzie McGuire.”

The baker’s-dozen bonus, meanwhile, is a coyly uncredited Ashton Kutcher, having a dandy, funny, self-mocking time as Nora’s vain, aspiring-actor boyfriend. Director Shawn Levy and much of the ”Cheaper” team come from the star’s 2003 movie ”Just Married”; clearly Kutcher’s at home with these dudes, free to pull a ”Punk’d” — on himself.

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