Movie Review: Cheaper by the Dozen

Cheaper by the Dozen Trailer

Cheaper by the Dozen Summary

Tom Baker is a college football coach in Midland, Illinois, where he raised twelve children. His wife, Kate, has written her story in a book and hopes to send it to her friend to publish the book. One day, Tom unexpectedly receives an offer from his old friend and football teammate Shake McGuire to coach at his alma mater in his hometown of Evanston, Illinois. Tom accepts the offer even though the kids are against it and demand the matter be put on a vote. Tom agrees to the vote, but tells them in the end he will do what he thinks is best for the family, which angers the kids. Charlie is unwilling to leave his home and his girlfriend Beth, and the younger kids are also unwilling to leave friends they have in Midland. The atmosphere at the Bakers’ new house is tense, and the situation at school is even worse as Mark and Charlie are both bullied. The family then meets their neighbors the Shenks consisting of Bill, Tina, and their son Dylan and he invites the children to his birthday party.

When her book is ready to pick up for publication, Kate must embark on a national book tour to promote it. Tom decides to hire the family’s eldest child, Nora, and her self-absorbed model/actor boyfriend, Hank, to help him look after the children. When Nora and Hank arrive, the children trip Hank into their kiddie pool full of dirty water. While Hank showers and waits for his clothes to be washed and dried, the children soak his underwear in meat. Later, when Hank joins everyone for lunch, the children unleash the family’s dog, Gunner, onto him, prompting him to refuse to assist in babysitting. As a result, a frustrated Nora drives off with Hank, while Tom cuts off the children’s allowance for their prank. 

After Kate departs for her book tour, Tom realizes that he cannot handle the children on his own after a chaotic night. As a result, Tom tries to hire a housekeeper, but no one is willing to work with a family as large as the Bakers, so Tom decides to bring the football players from work into the family’s house for game practicing in the living room to prepare for the Saturday night football game as the children perform chores and their household games. However, the children start causing trouble at school, including the younger kids having an altercation Mark’s bullies that apparently knocked off his eyeglasses the other day and Kyle and Nigel hurting their teacher by throwing things at her. Because of this (and the kids not doing their chores and things getting out of control), Tom decides to ground the children (except Charlie, Lorraine, and Nora) and forbid them from attending Dylan’s birthday party. But Sarah leads them to the party without Tom knowing. While discussing plans with the football players, Tom overhears people screaming at the party as one of the gifts turns out to be a snake with Dylan getting injured in the process. After a frustrated and homesick Charlie gets kicked off the football team, he argues with Tom, saying that the move was all about Tom and not the family. Tom then finds out Hank snuck in and slept over against the family’s clear rules, and Hank admits that he does not want to have children and that he expects Nora to think the same, which upsets her. Kate overhears from the children about the chaos and cancels the book tour to take charge of the situation. Kate’s publisher decides to create an additional promotion for her book by inviting Oprah Winfrey to tape a segment about the Bakers in their home instead.

Despite much coaching from Kate, the Bakers are not able to demonstrate the loving, strongly bonded family that Kate described in her book. When Mark’s frog dies, he tries to tell them the bad news. Sarah coldly reminds him that nobody cares, this proves to be the last straw for Mark, as a heated fight erupts moments before the segment starts, leading the cameramen to call Winfrey to cancel it. Mark runs away from home, prompting the Bakers to find him. When Hank refuses to help and Nora finally sees that her brothers and sisters were right about him, she breaks up with him and joins the search, and reminds Tom how she used to run away from home as a child to Chicago, her favorite place in the world. Tom then indulges a hunch that Mark is trying to run back to the Bakers’ old home in Midland, and eventually finds him on an Amtrak train departing from Chicago to Midland. Reuniting with the rest of their family, the Bakers begin to address their issues with each other, and Tom ultimately resigns from his position at his alma mater with Shake to spend more time at home with his family. The film then ends with the Bakers celebrating Christmas together and the chandelier in their living room breaks.

Cheaper by the Dozen Review

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I loved this movie back when it came out. I had previously wanted to have a ton of siblings but now I truly appreciate the few I have that don’t vibe with due to adoption (a very long story). Anyway, growing up as an oil child wasn’t all glamorous but at least my house wasn’t wild like this one. Now I look back and cringe. A chaotic house is overwhelming. There was bullying between siblings, very little support and so much more. I do appreciate the cast like Alyson Stone, Tom Wellington, Hilary Duff, Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt among many other notable names.

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