Enough Already

| | Comments (6)

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.


Here, here, Smock!

I just let the vasectemy reference wash over me when I saw it. And it is kind of a tip to the providential, as the parents say "OK, we're done!" and God says, "Guess what, you're not!"

All in all, if one reference to a failed vasectemy is the worst complaint you can have against this movie as being "anti-family", then your argument is a little weak.

And the neighbor lady, "we only wanted one PERFECT child", cracks me up.

You are so right.

I guess I just sort of bristle at the expectation that no one in their right minds would set out to have such a large family.

I still can't wait 'til we can get away to a bargain matinee to see it. (preferrably at the theater that has refills on popcorn and Coke...) My biggest concern is that efficiency was such an important focus of the original family (we still howl at the part where Father shows the school principal how to take a bath in a minute!) and the ads are centered on noise and chaos. Oh, well, it looks funny anyway.

Oh gosh,
I'm glad I haven't encountered the people who object to the whole film because of the vasectomy reference. I loved the movie and have seen it twice. I appreciate the fact that family life in this movie was crazy at times. I bristle a bit when I encounter the homeschool army of 9 or 11 or whatever. I was homeschooled myself and knew some of the oldest siblings in large families and the army approach to family life always turned me off. I know it reguires major organization but let's not lose sight of the fact that it's still family life and their are bound to be unexpected things and days of pure craziness that cannot be planned for.

I object to the film for two reasons.

1. The previews. Maybe I didn't give the movie much credit but what was I to expect after seeing the preview. The preview portrays large family life as ridiculous, comical, out of control, and a farce. Futhermore, when dad was left home with the kids he was the classic dope. Home alone style slapstick, only this time it's because the family is sooooo big it's ridiculous.

2. I've seen the original cheaper by the dozen, a true story and first a play, by the way, and the thought of turning a truly heartwarming, intelligent film into dumb and dumber with kids offends my sense of taste. The whole point of the original was that the father DID HAVE CONTROL. It seems as if we can't have funny situations without a bucket of mud falling on someone or a broom smashing some dopey father in the family jewels.

But maybe I'll give it a chance.

Well, I thought the vasectomy joke was unnecessary, I mean... 12 kids? And they didn't have their first until they were 23? Menopause, anyone?

Still, it didn't ruin it for me. I laughed and laughed... and then I laughed some more. It was very pro-big-families, especially when you compared the Bakers to the unhappy, pathetic, single child family! And I didn't mind that the father lost control when the mom was away. I took it to show that mothers really ARE supposed to be home with children and fathers are supposed to be the bread winners... it showed TRADITIONAL GENDER ROLES IN A POSITIVE LIGHT!!!! (that's "I'm excited" shouting, not angry shouting) Anyway, he pulled them together a bit and got the house cleaned up before the mom came home.

thank you for your candor, mr. franklin. you make a very good point, namely that one motion picture cannot please every sense of taste. this picture is heavy on one-liners and slapstick -- suitable for its target audience. le nozze di figaro it is not.
The preview portrays large family life as ridiculous, comical, out of control, and a farce.
i'm not sure about "ridiculous," but "comical, out of control and farce" yes. it's a comedy. a farce, if you will. as you lament, these exaggerations are popular comedic devices. good or bad, the movie does what it sets out to do.
Futhermore, when dad was left home with the kids he was the classic dope.
trust me, mr. franklin, i've seen this happen -- in a lot less time and with a lot less children.
But maybe I'll give it a chance.
i do hope so, mr. franklin. i trust you'd get your money's worth ... well, perhaps a matinee?



About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by smockmomma published on January 20, 2004 9:54 AM.

I want to read these books! was the previous entry in this blog.

Hey It's On Sale is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.