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CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN 2

SYNOPSIS:
Things are changing in the close knit Baker family, now that daughter Nora (Piper Perabo) is expecting her first baby and Lorraine (Hilary Duff) has graduated. So Tom Baker (Steve Martin) and wife Kate (Bonnie Hunt), take their family of 12 children to Lake Winnetka, for a last memorable summer vacation. To Tom's dismay, they run into long time rival Jimmy Muraugh (Eugene Levy), who is holidaying with his family of 8. Neither Tom nor Jimmy has lost the will to win - at any cost.

Review by Louise Keller:
A sequel doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad film. But there are not many redeeming qualities about this one. Cheaper by the Dozen 2 is simply a case of plastic characters jumbled together with a contrived script, shoved in a Hollywood comedy oven with the timer bell ignored. Resulting attempts at slapstick comedy and goofy humour fall pretty flat and there is a limit to how many situations you can pit Steve Martin's Tom Baker against Eugene Levy's manically competitive neighbour. As I recall, the original film was amusing enough, with many of its crazy situations and characters grounded in reality. This time around, with a new director (Adam Shankman) and new writers, it's all played for laughs, apart from the final 20 minutes when sentiments about the strength of family is realised and there's a trickle of genuine warmth. But it's not enough.

All the cast does what is expected of them, and the kids are all terrific. It was no doubt a money-spinner for Martin, who hams it up throughout with a somewhat embarrassed grimace of a smile. Levy comes out best, playing his thrice married father of eight dead straight, and I must admit, I was fascinated by his bouffant hair. When the Baker and the Muraugh families find themselves side by side at their Lake Winnetka holiday haunt, the one upmanship between the two fathers is inevitable. The saving grace comes in the form of the kids, whose friendship with each, sets a new tone. The set up is fun (but the execution is not) when Tom's daughter goes on her first date with Jimmy's son, and both fathers sneak into the local cinema to secretly keep their eyes on them.

Some of the ideas are funny, but scenes like the one involving raw mince meat, a cushion, china from the King of Thailand and a hungry dog are simply tired. The competition gets fierce as both families compete in all things. There's outdoor camping, waterskiing and a clam bake at the local club. We sense the end is near with the advent of the annual Labor Day Cup involving a wheelbarrow race, egg toss, archery, volleyball, pole balancing, before the deciding canoe race. Steve Martin fans will be disappointed.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN 2 (G)
(US, 2005)

CAST: Steve Martin, Bonnie Hunt, Hilary Duff, Tom Welling, Piper Perabo, Eugene Levy, Carmen Elektra

PRODUCER: Shawn Levy, Ben Myron, Robert Simonds

DIRECTOR: Adam Shankman

SCRIPT: Sam Harper (Craig Titley characters)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Peter James

EDITOR: Christopher Greenbury

MUSIC: John Debney

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Cary White

RUNNING TIME: 94 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 22, 2005

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox Entertainment

VIDEO RELEASE: March 24, 2006







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