Dads will be overbearing doofuses in Cheaper by the Dozen 2, a slapsticky sequel in which football coach Tom Baker (Steve Martin) sparks all-out war between his family of 12 and the clan of haughty childhood rival Jimmy Murtaugh (Eugene Levy). Struggling to cope with his kids growing up and moving away, Tom convinces everyone to congregate at a lakeside cabin where they used to spend summer vacations, only to find that his domineering desire to keep his brood together—as well as to best the wealthy Murtaugh and his Stepford-ish offspring in an annual competition—only pushes them further away. It’s an exhausting setup engineered for embarrassing buffoonery, from Tom clumsily trying to knee-board to his spying on tomboyish daughter Sarah (Alyson Stoner) during her first date with one of Murtaugh’s sons. Yet with the exception of Baker fashionista and Allure magazine intern Lorraine (Hilary Duff, looking like a skeletal, makeup-coated mini-Kate Moss), at least director Andy Shankman’s follow-up, unlike its predecessor, doesn’t bog its farcicality down with selfish, endlessly unjustified whining from both adults and children. As the perpetually pratfalling Martin and Levy attempt to one-up each other with their Grand Canyon-broad shtick, Bonnie Hunt (as sensible Mrs. Baker) and Carmen Electra (as trophy wife Mrs. Murtaugh) patiently roll their eyes from the sidelines. And as befitting the father-centric proceedings, they’re largely relegated to spewing maternal wisdom while showing off as much cleavage as a PG rating will allow. Shankman immediately reveals Electra’s real purpose in the film—to arouse the pants region of pubescent boys—by having the Barker’s dog sexually assault her upon first meeting. Mainly, however, Cheaper by the Dozen 2 is far more concerned with pat platitudes about learning to say goodbye, the importance of family, and the superiority of parental leniency over authoritarian strictness than it is with sex. Which, of course, is fitting, considering that despite Hunt’s intro narration that “With 12 kids, you learn a lot of lessons,” no one seems to have taught the messy, multitudinous Bakers about contraception.
- 20th Century Fox
- 94 min
- Andy Shankman
- Sam Harper
- Steve Martin, Bonnie Hunt, Eugene Levy, Carmen Electra, Piper Perabo, Tom Welling, Hilary Duff, Jaime King, Kevin Schmidt, Alyson Stoner, Jacob Smith, Forrest Landis, Liliana Mumy, Morgan York
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