So, I’ve been kind of down for the count this weekend, and I’ve caught up on all of my DVR’d shows and then moved onto flipping through the 30,000 HBO channels.
I came across “Cheaper by the Dozen,” which was about twenty minutes in.
I was interested because I remembered the book from many years ago, and, to be honest, it has Tom Welling and Piper Perabo in it, and I’ll pretty much watch anything with Tom Welling and/or Piper Perabo.
The book was all about living frugally and relying on each other in tough times, and so that’s pretty much what I was expecting from the movie.
I was severely disappointed.
The movie centers on the Baker family.
Mom, Dad, 12 kids.
Dad is a football coach and Mom is a stay-at-home Mom who manages the brood.
Their oldest daughter is grown and out of the house, they have a son who is a quarterback of the hometown football team, and a daughter who is a junior or sophomore, and the rest of the kids range from about 12 to 4 or 5.
Dad gets a big-time job coaching a college football team with an old friend of his and so he uproots the family to move to a suburb of Chicago.
Gorgeous house in a swanky neighborhood where everyone is preppy and…mannered.
The Baker kids are not.
So, just as they move to the new home, Mom gets a book deal for a book she has written…titled “Cheaper by the Dozen” and she needs to go on a book tour to promote the book, leaving Dad at home to care for the kids for two weeks.
Dad can’t seem to manage taking care of the kids (who are in school all day) and doing his job and chaos erupts.
They try to call in the oldest sister, but the kids hate her boyfriend (Ashton Kutcher) and so they soak his underwear in meat and sic the dog on him.
Sister and boyfriend leave, leaving Dad in the lurch.
Here’s why I didn’t like the movie.
I generally am not a fan of movies that involve kids behaving badly, however, they usually learn their lesson by the end.
Love the Nanny McPhee movies, because she teaches them more than just how to behave and they are completely different kids by the end.
Also, the kids in those movies are misbehaving because they are adjusting to some tragedy or trauma.
These Baker kids had it made.
They were just jerks.
Every time these kids misbehaved or cooked up some scheme, they got their way.
Don’t want the boyfriend around?
Soak his underwear in meat and he leaves. They don’t have to apologize…they just lose their allowance for a month.
Want Mom to come home from her book tour?
Act like complete animals and guess what? She cuts the tour short and comes home.
Not a great message.
I also am completely not down with the fact that both parents gave up when the going got tough.
Instead of believing in her husband, Mom comes home from the tour.
Instead of sitting down and talking with his wife and children about ways that they could all work together to make their new lives work, he quits the new job.
I understand the whole concept that the family is the most important thing, but the message is sent in completely the wrong way.
When those kids grow up, if things get tough, are they just going to give up, because that’s what their parents did?
I’m also against the whole “Dad as bumbling idiot” and “Men as completely inept” message that many movies send in their efforts to be funny.
That’s not funny.
I thought it was pathetic that this man couldn’t take care of his children.
Kids were being neglected, behaving horrifically and he pretty much threw his hands up with an “This is too much for me.”
You’re the Dad.
If your wife can do it, then so can you.
Personally, I find nothing sexier than confidence and competence.
Real Man bathing the kids, helping with homework, washing the dishes, etc. then heading to work or off to play hockey?
If he threw up his hands with a “You’re leaving??? What am I supposed to do with the kids?” every time I needed to be somewhere, we’d have a huge problem on our hands.
I think the majority of women feel this way, so I’m always surprised when movies portray men this way.
Finally, as a working Mom, I was offended by the fact that the only way the family could survive was if Mom was home.
She had to sideline any hope of her own path, her own career, because no one at home could manage without her.
I strive to raise independent children who can make good, solid decisions for themselves whether I’m there or not. That’s how I know I’ve done a good job.
If my kids act like animals the second I’m away, then I haven’t done my job at all.
So, the fact that she had to give up the book tour and her own dreams (yes, her book still hits the bestseller list, but you see what I’m saying) so that her children would behave is not a mark in her favor, in my book.
And please note, this is not a knock at stay-at-home Mom’s.
It’s a knock at the perception that a family cannot be happy, loving and thriving unless Mom is home.
So, while it was a cute movie…some cute moments, nice how much they all love each other, Tom Welling…I was upset at the messages that the movie sent and disappointed that it strayed so far from the original premise of the book.