TV TIDBITS-"Cheaper by the Dozen" Movie Unlike the Book of My Memory

DISCLAIMER: Movie Reviews

I never see a first-run movie so any movie reviews I do are likely older ones. But if you're looking to rent a DVD for the weekend, or just want a new perspective on a movie you remember fondly, or not-so-fondly, read on.

Been catching up on some old and not so old movies during this Christmas TV nothing season.

This week, a review of "Cheaper by the Dozen -2".

As a child I loved the book. I'm not at all sure Steve Martin captures the spirit of the book's character.

And a short touch on a movie about those Australian parents whose baby was killed by a dingo. The movie did not deal at all do that possible True Crime in terms of parents as perpetrators rather than a dingo.

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Review-“Cheaper by the Dozen 2”

I’ve never seen the movie “Cheaper by the Dozen”-ONE, and, indeed, did not even know there was such a movie. I came across this offering on many of my many premium cable movie channels and frankly tuned in because of my childish love of the book upon which the movie is based.

cheaper by the dozen 2 cover

Indeed I was but ten years old or so when I first read “Cheaper by the Dozen” by Frank Gilbreth Jr. and his sister Ernestine. The book was a delightful story of a family of 12 red-headed children and their efficiency expert father.

Frank Jr. and his sister must have fond memories of their life amongst twelve siblings to have written this wonderfully funny and poignant tale.

As I try to scan my memory bank back almost fifty years, I recall the tales of the Gilbreth Dad and how every move that family of fourteen made was studied by the efficiency expert father and how hilarious his attempts to turn his family into automatons like his factory workers became in the context of family life.

Mr. Gilbreth would actually study the simple act of opening a can from the cupboard and delineate the most efficient moves to accomplish this task. He did the same with all of the more mundane tasks of daily life and both Senior Gilbreth’s humorous study of the matter and his attempts to teach his dozen children the same was both funny and a bit sweet. That book will always be one of my favorites and oh how I wished I’d had a father like Frank Gilbreth Sr.

So the book has been made into some sort of movie and “Cheaper by the Dozen” ONE somehow premiered and went below my radar until I came upon “Cheaper by the Dozen 2”.

First, a quick review by another viewer, misspellings et al NOT mine.

This movie is as stereotypical as a family comedy can get in fact we have seen so many similar roles from Steve Martin in family comedies that one cannot honestly expect much from such films and indeed i went into this movie(as the company demanded i see a pg rated film) expecting as much.

The good part about the whole thing is that family comedies follow fool proof formulas and as such it is rare to find a bad one. So we have the summer release the 2 hot teens, one hot mom (carmen Electra looked spectacular), the overzealous and protective dad, the childhood romance etc etc you get what I'm saying right.

The acting of this movie is good with special mention for Steve Martin who is a regular comedy dad and even though brings nothing new to the film at least insures you never get bored. Eugene Levy also does a good job playing the eccentric dad of the rival family. Carmen Electra i realised is actually a good actress and looks great in this movie. However former preteen-queen Hilary duff looked way to thin and quite ugly.

The jokes of the film mostly squeaky clean although there is some much appreciated jokes for the adults that are so needed in this film. Particularly funny is the scene where the dog spoils the elaborate lunch, the take on another famous creature movie was hilarious. The film is filled with funny moments that will make you smile maybe force a half laugh but no scene is fall out your seat funny.

As for myself, I was hoping to re-visit the book of my memories and, well it wasn’t quite the same.

Amazon link to DVD of this film.

As with most sequel type films, this movie evidently picked up on the first version of the movie. I ascertained that in the first movie there had been some sort of family feud with another family of many children. So too was this version of the story.

For Steve Martin was the father of this large family and at some point the crew takes a vacation to a favored campsite. Martin’s family’s “camp” was rundown and ramshackle while the rival family lived in luxurious quarters complete with jet skis and all manner of play equipment. Martin’s children are lured by all the fancy toys and Martin’s rival Dad entices the children to come join in on the fun across the lake. Martin becomes despondent that he can’t compete with his rival for his children’s affection.

The big thread in this movie is almost predictable. Two of Martin’s children become enamored of two of the rival family’s children and nothing will make rivals live in peace like blossoming love between the offspring.

At some point a challenge is issued between the two families and between tossing eggs and canoe races, hilarity ensues.

The movie’s sweeter scenes include Steve Martin wrestling with his elder daughters plans to move far away from their family as well as the birth of Martin’s first grandchild. They grow up, the movie shouts at the viewer, and we have to let go.

I do not recall any mention in the movie of Martin’s method of earning a living. In the book, Gilbreth’s status as an efficiency expert was part and parcel of the story. The film showcased a feud between two families of many children and the lessons each learned from each other.

Not a bad plot, I’d softly suggest, but not at all true to the original story. “Cheaper by the Dozen” IS a true story, I must emphasize.

As for the acting, well the movie was a comedy and while it wasn’t drop-dead funny, there were smiles. The viewer could not help but sympathize with Steve Martin’s character, a Dad totally invested in his many offspring and his struggles to keep a beloved status quo that simply couldn’t be. They grow up, they have babies of their own, they move away, they fall in love with our rivals’ children, they are seduced by the toys of others. Most of us with families have been there and done that.

As with most movies with happy endings, this one had a happy ending. Heh.

I’d recommend this movie as a good choice of family fare and consider that it might actually be beneficial to watch along with our own children.

But it’s not at all like the book. Then, they almost never are.

Barnes and Noble Link to “Cheaper by the Dozen”.

”Cry in the Dark”

I can’t say too much about this movie as I only watched it from the corner of my eyeballs.

First, this was a movie I recorded just because it was about an intriguing true crime.

For an Australian couple’s baby was allegedly taken off by a dingo. So much of their story did not quite match the facts that the couple was eventually arrested and charged with their baby’s murder.

Below, an viewer review of the film. link to the movie.
Based on the true story of Lindy Chamberlain: during a camping trip to Ayer's Rock in outback Australia, she claims she witnessed a dingo stealing her baby daughter Azaria from the family tent. Azaria's body is never found. Police note some apparent inconsistencies in her story, and she is charged with murder. The case attracts a lot of attention, turning a simple investigation into a media circus, with the public divided in their opinion.

Second, for reasons I do not comprehend, this was the singular most difficult movie I’ve watched for almost forever.

I could barely understand the words of the characters and the death of the baby was presented in a crazy camera-circling, dizzying sequence and I have problems with this.

Because, ladies and gems, I studied this true crime when it hit the public’s fancy and there WERE great big gaping holes in that couple’s story. And as the movie unfolded, it was clear that the entire film was based on a premise that the couple was innocent. Which is why I think the scene when the baby was allegedly taken by the dingo seemed to be intentionally distorted. A viewer couldn’t make head nor tail about how the events of that night came down and yes, I think this was very intentional.

See, when and if a dingo ever stole a baby in dead of night, it’s very unlikely that it would leave the child’s clothes all neatly folded without a tooth mark in sight. Or without any sign of dingo saliva, may I add?

The movie addressed this damning evidence with a quick scene that had Merle Streep explaining this away with some sort of animal-tech speak that, what with the conversation in this film seemingly intentionally garbled, was barely discernible, at least by THIS viewer. Streep’s character explained those neatly folded and untorn baby garments quickly and garbled. I didn’t understand a word of it and wouldn’t believe it anyway. Animals do not remove clothing neatly from a prey’s body and leave them folded with nary a tooth mark or trace of saliva. It’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Make no mistake, I think that couple was guilty of killing their baby, and still do. The movie, although obviously presented in such a way as to exonerate the couple, certainly did not make me change my mind.

Although this couple WAS exonerated by the legal authorities due to a little sweater the baby wore that was found way after the couple was charged with the crime, I don’t think it illustrated their innocence in the least. Even though the couple swore the baby was wearing that “matinee jacket” at the time the dingo ran off with the child, no such thing was found until years later.

The state’s case on this couple was based on those neatly folded clothes and the fact that there was not one drop of dingo saliva on those clothes. Were I a prosecutor that would have been good enough for me. A dingo folded the child’s clothes neatly? A dingo left not one trace of saliva on those same clothes? The child’s body was never found. But if a dingo really ate the baby I don’t suppose it would have been.

It was when that sweater that the couple swore the child was wearing was found later that the state dropped the case. The movie NEVER said, one way or the other, whether this little sweater showed any traces of dingo saliva and again, I think this was intentional.

Because I think there was no dingo saliva found on that sweater found so long after the couple were charged. If there had been I am quite sure the film would have shouted this from the rooftops.

Instead the movie characterized this couple as persecuted heroes mistreated simply for their strong religious views.

I still do not believe they are innocent.

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