In the midst of several reboots being done by Disney’s streaming platform, Cheaper By the Dozen is one of the dozen movies being rebooted. There have been many establishments of the original novel made in 1948, but this newly released reboot mostly resembles the adaptation made in 2003, starring Steve Martin. Disney’s new adaptation of the story is substantially useless but offers the retelling with an interracial family, one of the only good qualities of this messy remake.
With its particular plotline of the Baker family living through all the chaos and pandemonium with a household of a dozen kids, this new reboot’s approach is significantly different from its original with the family having a distinctive family tree. Instead of there being 12 kids and then two parents, there are just 12 people in this new family altogether. Some kids were from previous marriages, one is an adopted godson, one is a cousin and the youngest ones are biological children of the two parents (Zach Braff and Gabrielle Union). In a way, it seems to follow more towards the plot lines of Yours, Mine and Ours, where two households combine to make one big happy family.
Through its somewhat of a confusing family dynamic, there is an astonishing amount of diversity within the family, making their family unique to say the least. Not only are some of them biracial, one of the family members is even handicapped, a rarity in films but definitely an important feature. Disney making upgrades like these are important but they draw attention to it extensively, which at times isn’t always necessary.
From a child’s perspective, there isn’t much to really gain from this movie other than some cute, quirky one liners. Unlike the original, there are no chaotic moments of the children making a complete mess or causing utter chaos involving their parents, which is what made the original so memorable and fun.
Instead, its humor manages to be so corny that it just feels overwhelmingly cringeworthy. Some one-liners just don’t hit where it wants and some jokes are trying to be so on-trend that it just falls off. It desperately tries to be a sitcom, combining humor with real family issues, but even trying to do that isn’t working.
The film overcomplicates so many unnecessary plot points. There is a lot of family history that is explained but makes the film messy, making it impossible for a child to understand. It doesn’t feel like a kid’s movie, more so it feels like a film with some political tie-ins and uncomplex, unfunny dialogue.
Since the family is interracial, it would be unusual for the film not to mention the prejudices that people often think of when it comes to families like these. The political standing, though important to present to young audiences, isn’t executed properly or at least in a way that a child could properly understand. It had its potential but the film made it seem more like a priority rather than an opportunity.
Zach Braff’s role as the understanding father gets somewhat lost in translation. As a heavily layered character with several plotlines and ambitions, the only way to really describe his character is by mentioning that he dabs half way through the movie. In no way does he measure up to Steve Martin’s effortlessly comedic role as the father of several kids. Braff’s character makes so many mindless decisions just like how Disney has made so many mindless decisions while making this reboot.
Gabrielle Union’s character, though an important motherly figure, spends a lot of her time fighting off unneighborly neighbors. While she does so, her husband is always away for business, leaving her to take care of the children on her own. The parents get a lot of screen time, making their children seem like background characters. One could probably only remember two or three of the children’s names while watching, which says a lot on its own.
Sadly there is no Hilary Duff or Tom Welling to stand as recognizable teen actors in this film, making most of the younger cast being new on-screen faces. There was barely any spotlight on the younger actors, preventing them from showing their true potential. Several of the young actors in the 2003 adaptation got their rising fame from the movie, but it doesn’t feel like the same thing will happen for the newbies this go around.
All in all, Cheaper by the Dozen is another unwarranted reboot that proves yet again that reboots are not working, especially for Disney, as there is substantial nothing to gain from watching this film. It does make some important upgrades but lacks any memorable qualities as it fails to be a film marketed towards children. This reboot is an example that Disney has a dozen problems when it comes to reboots by wasting so much potential and opportunities.