It seems to me most of the people kvetching about CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN haven't even seen the movie. C'mon people! Adversaries take a four second scene out of five thousand, eight hundred-eighty seconds (it's a 98 minute movie) and run with their wild assumptions hanging out. This is the most PRO FAMILY movie to come down the pike in years, yet Catholics are choosing to boycott it because there's a brief mention of a vasectomy. By the way, when was the last time you saw a movie where someone didn't make a bad moral decision at some point in the movie? Did you walk out when that happened? Did you tell everyone you knew to avoid the movie? Did you write blogs to boycott it? I daresay no.
Mind you, even I don't think this movie is Oscar material, but the critics (those critical) of the film criticized it for being such a feel-good, pro-family holiday film. I think Rick Groen of The Globe and Mail best summed up the critics' derision of the movie when he wrote: "Yep, there's never a dull moment when you and the missus are a fertility clinic.” Even the New York Times reviewer, Stephen Holden, who calls the movie "a bubbling crockpot of farcical mush to warm the tummies of anyone who really and truly misses 'The Brady Bunch'," is upset because the family is too happy. Hellooo? He writes, "To surrender to a movie like this is to buy on some level its impossibly idealized portrait of family togetherness. Once its cozy glow wears off, a tiny part of you is likely to feel a pang that your family isn't as happy and secure as the Bakers." Sniffsniff. What's that? Smells like sour grapes to me.
Anyone who knows anything about me knows that I adore the actress Bonnie Hunt. She is a Catholic actress who does her level best to promote a pro-family stand in her work. Her own film Return to Me is strikingly Catholic. Regardless, lest any reader think I champion this film for Bonnie alone, please note that I am not the only Catholic who recommends CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN. Steven Greydanus (Roman Catholic father of four), of the Decent Films Guide, gives the movie an A- (the minus is for mild suggestive dialogue, fleeting gross out humor; brief mention of a vasectomy; very mild sensuality). He has this to say about the film:
Anyone with more than three kids can sympathize with the Bakers when they are judged “irresponsible” by a snooty neighbor. How refreshing that this movie (like in the original when the Planned Parenthood representative stops by) is on the side of the large family. In fact, though it is a rarity in films today, Cheaper by the Dozen consistently gives those with an anti-family agenda a poke in the eye, exposing them as self-righteous, self-absorbed, inconsiderate, and immature.
This film sheds a positive light on large family life; it emphasizes the importance of not only love, but sacrifice. It casts mothers who stay home in a positive light. It allows the parents to hold traditional values without seeming silly or radical. When was the last time you were able to say that about a live-action film from Hollywood?
I'd like to end with another quote from Mr. Greydanus who writes:
In the end, the parents make the choices that need to be made, and the film keeps its eyes fixed firmly on the message expressed by Tom [the dad]: “If I don’t raise my kids right, well, then nothing else I do will matter.” If ever there’s a message our culture needs more than that one, we don’t know what it is.