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Steve Martin and the entire cast of the prequel are back in Cheaper By the Dozen 2, but this time with a new director. Adam Shankman, who helmed Bringing Down the House and The Pacifier, gives it a go, but unfortunately like his earlier films, Cheaper 2 falls short on laughs and long on anticipated DVD sales. It's another one of those half-hearted family comedy remakes like Yours, Mine and Ours, that wants to hit a sentimental chord with Holiday family audiences while providing a bellyful of laughs. But in reality we discover its funniest moments were revealed in the trailer, leaving only a few worn-out cornball antics and a smattering of contrived sentimental dialogue.

When Tom and Kate Baker (Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt) begin to realize their twelve offspring are not only growing up, but also apart, they decide that one last get-together might bring the family closer together. So they all meet at the big vacation house on lake Winnetka in Wisconsin. They haven't been there in years and the house has fallen into a sad state of disrepair. Their peaceful vacation soon turns dog-eat-dog when Tom discovers that his rival, Jimmy Murtaugh (Eugene Levy) recently purchased the lavish retreat across the lake. Tom not only sees this as an affront to his manhood, but he views it as an opportunity to renew the family competition with the over-achieving Murtaughs.

The penny-pinching Bakers mix it up with the affluent Murtaughs in a series of camp competitions. Mrs. Baker tries to keep some semblance of peace between the two families, but while she and the newest Mrs. Murtaugh (Carmen Elektra) find it quite difficult to act as the buffers between to testosterone-charged patriarchs, the children seem to be able to accept and even embrace their differences. Young tomboy Sarah Baker (Alyson Stoner) is finally being discovered for reasons other than her athletic abilities, Charlie Baker (Tom Welling) has the hots for Anne Murtaugh (Jaime King), and so on. The message is that children can more easily see past their differences.

Running behind the big Labor Day contest is the real competition that acts as the spine to the story. We see that the Murtaughs and Bakers have different parenting styles. The Bakers provide gobs of support and love almost at the expense of discipline, while Billy Murtaugh insists that the kids find a way to mix in a little study time and career planning during their vacation. Of course the lesson to be learned is that when children are given family love and emotional support, and are allowed to grow up and move on, they'll always feel those strong family ties.

There's really no reason this movie should have been made - although I'm certain the fact that the prequel represents Martin's largest grossing comedy to date has something to do with it - and there's no reason for you to see it. Your box office dollars might only encourage such anemic fluff in the future. Even fans of Steve Martin's brand of physical comedy will be disappointed, especially if you've already seen the trailers. The jokes are old and tired, and the antics are nothing we haven't seen before a thousand times including a retread of the dog attack on the meat-filled trousers. With Cheaper By the Dozen 2, Shankman continues his run of anemic, not-so-funny family comedies that don't even manage to make the 10-year olds in the audience laugh, much less their parents.


DVD

DVD Details:

Screen formats: Widescreen 2.35:1; Full Screen 1.33:1

Subtitles: English, Spanish

Language and Sound: English: Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround; French: Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; trailer; deleted scenes; making-of featurette; director's commentary.

* Audio Commentary
o With director Adam Shankman
* Featurettes
o Camp Chaos - with most of the cast (and director) making comments about the fun they had making the movie.
o A Comedic Trio - Martin, Levy and Hunt offer short quips about their backgrounds.

Number of discs: - 1 Keepcase Packaging{pgomakase}

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