Friday, February 25, 2005

Cheaper By The Decade

Films Recently Watched:

Cheaper by the Dozen (1950) dir. by Walter Lang

Efficiency expert, Frank Gilbreth (masterfully played by Indianapolis native, Clifton Webb) manages his large family the only way he knows how...efficiently. A sweet portrayal of this true story which shows the end of an era of innocence and paternalism.

Cheaper by the Dozen (2003) dir. by Shawn Levy

This "remake" features a college football coach, Tom Baker (played by Steve Martin) who also manages his large family the only way he knows how...badly.

Actually watched these back-to-back the other night. Though both list Frank B. Gilbreth Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey (real life son and daughter) as writers, these two films are "similar" by name only.

What Christy and I didn't understand was why the remake couldn't have been much more similar to the original. I assume that the idea of an "efficiency expert" was a relatively new concept in the 1920's, but we thought it still would have worked for a modern day remake. Now, I don't know that Steve Martin could have pulled off the "efficiency expert" role and perhaps that is the answer. I think the 2003 version was adapted as a vehicle Steve Martin and I guess I can see a writer/director saying, "I don't see Steve being able to pull off the efficiency expert vibe so let's move in a completely different direction...let's make him coach, yeah, a football coach."

Anyway, unless you've got a daughter (or son) who just HAS to see the remake because they want to see Hilary Duff, do your whole family a favor and watch the superior, original, Cheaper by the Dozen.

Other alternatives (to the 2003 "remake"):
Spy Kids - Family friendly in both content and message, this 2001 Action/Adventure is more fun, more engaging, better made, and has a decent 5.1 surround soundtrack.
Daddy Day Care - If seeing a dozen or more unruly kids screaming and running around a house is your bag, try this one, instead.

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