Cheaper by the Dozen (2003)

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Released 10-May-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Introduction
Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-Shawn Levy (Director)
Audio Commentary-Kids Of The Movie
Deleted Scenes-11, With Optional Commentary
Storyboard Comparisons-2
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Frogs And Eggs
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Dylan's Birthday
Featurette-Director's Viewfinder: Creating A Fictional Family
Featurette-Critters
Web Links
Easter Egg-Hank's Tommy Max Commercial
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 94:42
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Shawn Levy
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Steve Martin
Bonnie Hunt
Piper Perabo
Tom Welling
Hilary Duff
Kevin Schmidt
Alyson Stoner
Jacob Smith
Liliana Mumy
Morgan York
Forrest Landis
Blake Woodruff
Brent Kinsman
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music Christophe Beck
Robert Buck
Natalie Merchant


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
English Audio Commentary
English Audio Commentary
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, outakes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    I approached this film with some trepidation, concerned that it would another one of those completely unfunny films produced by a big American studio with an overload of schmaltz at the end. The good news is that whilst this film does have some schmaltz it is also very funny, easy to like and an entertaining hour and a half.

    Cheaper By The Dozen is a 'family film' in more ways than one. It sports a very inoffensive G rating, contains no swearing (calling someone "doorknob man" is about as naughty as it gets), no smoking and only small amounts of slapstick violence. It is also the story of a family of twelve children and their parents, Tom (Steve Martin) and Kate Baker (Bonnie Hunt). The plot involves the pressures put on the family by the parents making choices which change the kids' lives. Both parents simultaneously start new careers, with Tom being offered his dream job coaching the football team at his old college and Kate having her book about the family published. This necessitates a move from their small town to a big city, which of course uproots the twelve children, much to their dismay. This leads to some excellent comedic set pieces and many trials and tribulations for the family. It is not really a spoiler to tell you that everything works out all right in the end.

    Of course, we have seen films like this before. In fact, this is loosely based upon a previous film of the same name. I remember seeing that film on television when I was a child. There have been other very similar films such as With Six You Get Egg Roll and Yours, Mine & Ours and television series such as Eight is Enough or even The Brady Bunch. To my mind, the very funny sequences such as the one early in the film involving a pet frog and the excellent scene involving an uncredited Ashton Kutcher, mince meat and a different family pet, make this stand out of the bunch. Additionally, there is some good acting including Steve Martin & Bonnie Hunt as the parents, Forest Landers (in his first film) as Mike Baker and Alyson Stoner as Sarah Baker. Steve and Bonnie work well as a couple and are believable and quite funny. Forest is our tragic hero and he is convincing and gets our sympathy without resorting to being an annoying brat. The other children refer to his character as 'Fed-Ex', because they reckon that he doesn't fit with the family and that the 'Fed-ex' man must have dropped him off. Alyson portrays the tomboy who leads most of the skulduggery which the younger children get up to.

    From an adult perspective, there were also a number of things which I did not like about this film, however, they would probably not bother children. I thought that the older children, with the exception of Piper Perabo, were cast just so they could say the actors were involved, in an thinly veiled attempt to get older teenage viewers interested in this film. Accordingly, we have Tom Wellings (Superman from the TV series Smallville) as the oldest son, Charlie and the very annoying Hillary Duff as Lorraine. Duff was obviously only available for a small portion of the shooting schedule as she appears intermittently in the film and the other children talk in their commentary about how an number of her scenes were added later. Piper Perabo does quite a good job in her role, despite being forced to spend a lot of time playing opposite Ashton Kutcher, who portrays her boyfriend. In addition to this, the ending of the film was quite sentimental involving everyone falling in love again, someone going missing, Christmas and the death of a non-human character.

    Other minor quibbles include the fact that due to there being so many children, some of the characters were really just filler, the youngest twin boys were constantly paraded in ridiculous and far too cute matching costumes (the roman centurion outfits took the prize for the most ridiculous), Bonnie Hunt's hair seemed to get a new style every day (sometimes twice a day), one of the kids talked about taking flute lessons and was then seen walking around with a clarinet and the Hillary Duff song over the final credits was horrible.

    The film was well directed by up-and-coming young director Shawn Levy. This was his third feature film, following Big Fat Liar and Just Married. If the old adage of 'Never work with children or animals' is true, Shawn definitely had his hands full here with 12 children and numerous animals including 10 frogs, 2 dogs and a snake.

    Overall, this film is good family entertainment, providing laughs for both children and parents (and the occasional side-splitting moment), without the parents feeling the need to shuffle the children off to bed.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is excellent throughout.

    The feature is presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The picture was very clear and sharp throughout, with no evidence of low level noise. Shadow detail was excellent but being a brightly lit film it was rarely required.

    The colour was very good throughout with all colours being well saturated and free from colour bleeding. This added to big colourful scenes like the birthday party.

    No artefacts of any kind were noticeable.

    The main title included English subtitles, and subtitles were also available for both commentaries. Generally, these gave a good  reflection of the actual dialogue although they were occasionally summarised due to time constraints. It would have been useful if the kids' commentary subtitles indicated who was speaking. The subtitles were on the actual picture and were generally well placed although during the title they moved around dependent upon where the titles were.

    This is a dual-layered disc, however the layer change is either extremely well hidden in the main feature or it has the feature all on one layer and the extras on the other layer.
    

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio quality is very good, but was mostly focussed on the front speakers as you would expect in a character based comedy. The surrounds and subwoofer were used quite often but really just added to the overall sound.

    This DVD contains only one audio option, an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 448 Kb/s, unless you count the two commentaries as well.    

    Dialogue was at all times clear and easy to understand.    

    There were no problems with audio sync.    

    The score of this film by Chris Beck was good and added to the big set pieces. There was also good use of songs through the movie which were quite well chosen.    

    The surround speakers were quite busy adding off-screen dialogue, sound effects and music. They did not stand out but were used quite regularly to add atmosphere.  

    The subwoofer was also used quite often to add sound effects and bass to the music.

    

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    This disc contains a large number of extras, mostly of good quality.

Menu

    The menus were presented in 1.85:1 16x9 enhanced, with sound and movement.

Audio Commentary - Shawn Levy (Director)

    This is quite a good commentary track and the director is engaging and talks virtually non-stop throughout about making the film, his crew who have virtually all worked with him on his previous films, and some amusing anecdotes. He does tend towards 'Everyone was wonderful' but his obvious happiness with the final product and enjoyment of the film-making process lift this commentary above the norm.

Audio Commentary - The Kids (Alyson Stoner, Jacob Smith, Kevin Schmidt, Morgan York & Lilliana Mumy) and selected scenes by Piper Perabo 

    This commentary track may be one of the first ones specifically designed for children. I cannot imagine adults finding this entertaining for the entire length of the feature. Mostly it consists of the kids laughing at themselves onscreen, discussing what snacks are available in the room they are doing the commentary from and pronouncing everything awesome or classic. There are some funny anecdotes and they point out the cameo appearance in the film by the director. Piper Perabo's comments were obviously recorded separately and are much more adult, which means they don't really fit with the rest of the commentary.

Deleted and Extended Scenes - with optional commentary by Shawn Levy (Director) (18:33)

    There are 11 scenes here in total, most of which make it only too obvious why they were cut. There is one which features a new character, a babysitter played by Eileen Brennan (Private Benjamin). This scene is quite amusing but a little nasty, which is why the director explains that it was cut. The last scene is an ad-lib between Ashton Kutcher and one of his Punk'd co-stars, talking about Ashton's imaginary modelling career. The director believes this was very funny, unfortunately, I do not agree. The director's commentary is well worth listening to, as it explains why each scene was cut or changed, and it is a good insight into the film-making process.

Storyboard to Screen Comparisons (1:59 & 1:09)

    To my mind these added nothing to my understanding of the scenes portrayed. They may be worthwhile if this particular style of extra is of interest to you.

Featurette - Frogs and Eggs (8:08)

    This extra is presented in 1.33:1, non 16x9 enhanced with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. It includes interviews with Sam Harper, the co-writer, Shawn Levy, the director and David Kelsey, the special effects director. It focuses on the making of one of the comedic set pieces early in the film and is quite interesting. It does, however, leave me with one question - 'What the hell is an Egg Burrito?'.

Featurette - Dylan's Birthday (7:56)

    This extra is presented in 1.33:1, non 16x9 enhanced with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. It includes interviews with the three people mentioned in the previous featurette plus the Stunt Co-ordinator, Ernie Orsatti and the Production Designer, Nina Ruscio. This featurette focuses on the making of the biggest action sequence of the film and is again quite interesting.

Featurette - Director's Viewfinder : Creating a Fictional Family (15:03)

    This featurette focuses on the director, how he became involved in the project, what sort of film he was setting out to make, the difficulties of directing children and the casting of the Baker family. This repeats some information from the commentary but is still quite interesting, although you do get the impression that the director, Shawn Levy is pretty impressed with himself.

Featurette - Critters (12:11)

    This featurette focuses on the animals used during the shoot and includes an interview with the animal trainer, Mike Alexander. There are some funny anecdotes included about trying to get frogs to hop and training the dog for the meat sequence in the film.

Easter Egg - Hank's Tommy Max Commercial (0:50)

    An Easter Egg is included which can be accessed by (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) clicking right from the word Featurettes on the first special features menu which shows a green dog. It is the full film of Ashton Kutcher's underwear advertisement which I am sure would interest some teenage girls.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

   Based upon the above, the Region 4 would have to be considered the better version, especially when PAL is taken into account (unless you are desperate for a pan and scan transfer).

Summary

    This movie is a fun and easy to like family film.

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio quality is very good.

    The disc is bursting at the seams with quality extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Thursday, May 06, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 1200, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD Player, Dolby Digital and DTS.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

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Comments (Add)
Its not as good as the revievwer said it is!!! - cztery REPLY POSTED
Special features - Graeme Edgeler REPLY POSTED