Full house

Breaking a reproductive taboo
Though no cinematic masterpiece, Cheaper by the Dozen is not predictable Hollywood schlock. It is unpredictable Hollywood schlock. Loosely based on the 1948 memoir about two “efficiency experts” and their joyfully haphazard family of 12, Cheaper stretches “family” beyond the usual sentimental formulas of carefully controlled parenthood.

When Tom Baker lands his dream job as a big-time football coach and the family moves from relative rural obscurity into a tony suburb, their respectable midwestern neighbors are disturbed. The Baker family is a “throwback,” “irresponsible,” “unbelievable,” and the kids are likely to “end up with their faces on milk cartons.” This humor has an edge.


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