Parenthood is not an adventure for the weak-hearted, and Steve Martin has had great success with movies that celebrate that reality with a potent mix of screwball comedy and bitter-sweet heart. Parenthood (1989) was a classic, the Father of the Bride films (1991, 1995) yanked laughter, tears, and ticket dollars from many a movie patron, and 2003's highly successful (if not critically-acclaimed) Cheaper by the Dozen was a respectable addition to the Martin canon. Cheaper by the Dozen 2, unfortunately, is the exception that proves the rule—great comedic talent (Martin, Bonnie Hunt, Eugene Levy), a bevy of cute kids, and a funny set-up can't camouflage a less-than-stellar story. Cheaper 2 has a script as tired as, well, your average parent.
The premise is promising enough. Tom Baker (Martin) and his wife Kate (Bonnie Hunt) are facing the very early stages of Empty Nest Syndrome. Daughter Lorraine (Hilary Duff) is graduating from high school and planning a move to New York to take on a fashion internship. Oldest daughter Nora (Piper Perabo) is married, expecting the first Baker grandchild, and moving to Houston. (Sadly, Nora's old beau Hank, played in the first Cheaper to great comedic effect by Ashton Kutcher, is nowhere to be seen.) Even with eldest son Charlie (Tom Welling) out of the house, there are still nine more kids at home, but Tom is having a hard time letting go of any of his brood. Pining for the old times, he plans a late summer family vacation at a Lake Winnetka—the site of many previous happy family gatherings. The entire clan signs on, and after an oddly slow start to the film, the Baker family and the movie itself get on the road.
The Bakers arrive to find the "Big House" they've always rented in ...1
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Cheaper by the Dozen 2
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