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Cheaper by the Dozen Review – Airy Disney Family Comedy Remake | movies

IIt doesn’t feel very Disney+ that Cheaper by the Dozen will premiere in 2022 on the company’s streaming service, Disney+. The family film is a remake of a remake – the 2022 version puts a new twist on the 2003 film of the same name. which updated the 1950 film based on the semi-autobiographical novel by siblings Frank Butler Gilbreth Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey. It’s also a powerful nostalgia lure for young millennial parents; The 2003 version, starring Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt as parents to 12 rowdy kids, was a dependable (if lukewarmly reviewed) family-friendly staple of the 2000s, whose brood included a bevy of beloved millennial stars — Hilary Duff, Piper Perabo, Tom Welling, Alyson stoners

Directed by black-ish producer Gail Lerner from a script by show creator Kenya Barris and writer/producer Jenifer Rice-Genzuk, the 2022 version makes some welcome updates to the formula for big family hijinks, but shares the 2003 film’s shallow humor. There are too many moving parts to find a consistent groove; his tone fluctuates even more haphazardly from children’s films to marriage portraits to slapstick comedy to blatant comments about races, without hitting the target particularly well and despite the endearing commitment of its actors.

The Disney+ version inevitably modernizes the always-uniform white family at the center into a mixed group. In a cheesy but effectively succinct opening montage, Paul (Zach Braff) and Zoey Baker (Gabrielle Union), the multiracial married co-runners of an all-day breakfast joint in Los Angeles, explain how their blended family came to be. Paul was married to Kate (Erika Christensen), a yoga girl from Los Angeles, with whom she had three children (one of whom, a child of South Asian descent named Haresh, played by Aryan Simhadri, was adopted as a baby). Zoey was married to NFL pro bowler Dom (Timon Kyle Durrett), with whom she had two children. Both marriages ended happily — “We agreed to close this chapter of our lives,” they said twice — and Zoey and Paul fall in love at his diner. Two pairs of twins later, the Bakers are up to nine children. A foster home — Paul’s sister, it’s mentioned with a wary but airy sensibility, goes into rehab, so the Bakers take in their (very mildly) troubled teenage son Seth (Luke Prael) — takes a full dose.

As with the 2003 film, the core of Disney Plus’ remake of merry domestic chaos has been molded into a light didactic: the importance of nuclear family (albeit a mixed one, in this update) with reminders not to be blinded by financial success or lure to let growth. Paul decides to market his special sauce and possibly franchise the restaurant to pay for a larger home. The Bakers are moving from Echo Park, a middle-class neighborhood in LA, to Calabasas — “Kardashian country,” as one Instagram-savvy kid puts it. The new mansion, bougie neighborhood, and private school put a strain on the family in obvious, predictable ways: Eldest daughter Deja (Journee Brown, a standout figure in the ensemble), a basketball star, is benched in favor of last-named teammate The High School . The white country club parents dislike Zoey and mistake her for the nanny.

The latter is one of several moments in which the film seems unsure how to deal with the elephant in the room of racism. As a joke? (Zoey schools a haughty, racist country club mom.) As a subtle condition that needs to be indirectly addressed? (Paul tells Zoey, who feels out of place in Calabasas, that there are some places he doesn’t fit, like when she took him to a barber shop in Inglewood). As a teachable moment? (Dom, a black man who is skeptical of Paul, begins a speech about how Paul will never understand what it feels like to be profiled by the police, let alone prepare his black children for it.)

All intentions are capitalized-G Well, all politics and views are firmly progressive in the Disney spirit while being palatable. This has utility, especially for young viewers, but the moralizing feels more like a brand struggling to be correct than a family figuring things out.

Still, some of the sillier material that’s painfully awkward for an adult viewer — Paul and Dom’s dance fight during Deja’s basketball game, Paul doing what he thinks is hip to impress younger potential investors — will likely play well for kids who watch TikTok -Like dances, and adults make fools of themselves. Braff and Union have passable chemistry, but Union’s charisma and confidence are magnetic in any context, including this one. It’s all airy — there are no bad actors or malicious intent (other than that one Calabasas woman), so drama is light and clutter is quickly cleared up.

From an adult perspective, it seems unlikely that 2022’s Cheaper by the Dozen will inspire the same loyalty as its predecessor, but who knows? Maybe in 2042, Gen Alpha’s parents will feel seen by Disney’s latest version of the Bakers.

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