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Cheaper By the Dozen

Without Steve Martin this had all the hallmarks of a suck-your-cheeks-in-from-the-overbearing-sweetness-of-it G rated comedy. Ordinarily I'd give any movie with Hilary Duff and a bunch of little kids a very wide berth.

And being a G rated film, it was oversweet at times, but competencies in everything from the writing to the acting made up for the overdisneyfication and the result was actually quite charming.

Tom and Kate end up having 12 children, from age 22 to about 4. Along the same lines as Parenthood, the film deals with them tryin to do the best for their kids, follow their own aspirations, and the sparks that inevitably fly (with requisite jokes about chaotic, messy surrounds thrown in for good measure to please the under 10s in the audience).

What was most interesting about it was the casting. What could have been a typical family movie crowded with unknowns apart from one comic drawcard (Martin, in this case), actually had quite a few recognisable faces in it, as if the studio invested more effort into it than they ordinarily would a kids holiday film.

Hilary Duff is no megastar, but she's climbing the ladder to fame pretty steadily and doesn't seem to be at the point where she'd play second fiddle in a big family comedy. After making a small splahs in Coyote Ugly a few years ago, Piper Perabo either laid low or couldn't get any more work and this is the best offer she's had. Also of note was Asthon Kutcher, uncredited in the role of her vacuous MTA boyfriend. Maybe he did it as a favour for director Levy who put him in Just Married. Also Wayne Knight, having lost a pile of weight, was almost unrecognisable as the electrician.

Otherwise, it was cute, very well acted with subtlety and heart by Martin and Hunt, and well written enough to wrap up the stories of fourteen major characters in 90 minutes.

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