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00685 - CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN

Movie-Hype00685 - CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN

If you watched this movie—and were not under some sort of hostage type of situation (and by “hostage” I am including your girlfriend threatening to “withhold”)—and you laughed, then I am dismissing you from the Institute. Nay: you are banned for one full week.

I know that some movies are not to be taken seriously. Movies have to stretch reality, mold it, sometimes downright abuse the physical properties of the world to be entertaining. I understand that. In a movie like ARMAGEDDON, for example, we ignore how long the signal would take to go from Deep Space to Mission Control so that we can enjoy the emotional connection between Harry Stamper as he tells his daughter he loves her (and then sacrifices his life to save the world).

I get that. This is why I created the Suspension of Disbelief Rating, so people would know how seriously to take the movie.

What bothers me is not when a movie conveniently ignores reality. It is lazy writing. I remember watching MURDER AT 1600 once, and the Secret Service is about to catch Diane Lane and Wesley Snipes in a hotel room, but right at the last moment…they go out the back door!

BUT NO MOTEL ROOM IN THE LAST 20 YEARS HAS HAD A BACK DOOR!

It is not even plausible. How hard would it have been to set the scene outside the motel room, and create your drama trying to get away in and around the motel exterior? You would still get your suspense, your adrenaline.

This brings me to CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN. First of all, I read the book, many times. I loved the book. I saw the original movie and enjoyed that too.

The new Steve Martin version contains none of those things. It has the 12 kids, all predictably cute and all full of hi-jinks in a “Home Alone-Lite” sort of way. That is what you know you are getting going in.

When the movie starts the mom has written a book, which is accepted by a publisher, edited, printed (a huge printing) put out to stores, and becomes a best seller, all in less than a week. She goes on an extended book tour, leaving the incompetent husband in charge.

Meanwhile, he has just accepted a job at a Northwestern-like University football program. How much research would have been necessary to find out that most football coaches—especially when they are first getting started at a big-time program—work 16-20 hour days?

For a regular dad with a regular job and a full-time stay-at-home mom taking care of 12 kids would be very very difficult. For someone who is in a job demanding all of his time? It is child abuse. Pure and simple. The only way it could conceivably be possible is to hire several nannies, which, Hello!—parents with those two incomes could easily afford.

But instead we get what we get. Why do I care, when it is a movie this stupid to begin with? I do not know. Perhaps it is because I am working on movie scripts which probably will never get made into movies. Maybe I am just jealous.

However, I do think the North American public can handle more intelligent movies, with smarter scripts. They accept what they are given and laugh at the inane humor, but that is only because people are passive. Look what else they put up with. It does not have to be this way. We could demand more.

CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN may not be the time to take a stand, but if not here, when? When will we start demanding smarter movies with intelligent scripts where at least a modicum of research and diligence has been done?

Until we do, we will continue to get movies like CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN. I blame all of you.

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