Cheaper by the Dozen

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
Cheaper by the Dozen Movie Poster Image
Inferior remake of 1950 classic has sexual references.
  • PG
  • 2003
  • 100 minutes

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 19 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 43 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Movie explores the theme of parents trying to "have it all"-- fulfilling careers while still having the time to be the parents to their twelve kids. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Because there are 12 kids, there isn't enough time for any of them to emerge as positive role models. The parents maintain positive attitudes even amidst the most stressful moments of raising 12 children at different stages in their lives; the central conflict of the movie is how the parents, thinking they can "have it all," must choose between devoting all the time necessary to pursue their dream jobs, or scale back their career ambitions so that they have time to spend raising their kids as well as time with each other. 

Violence

Frequent comedic pratfall violence. Someone always seems to be breaking something in the house. Young kids take the underwear belonging to the unlikable boyfriend of their oldest sister and dip it in meat; when the boyfriend puts the underwear on then sits down to dinner with the family, their dog attacks his groin. A sibling vomits, and another sibling slips in it. 

Sex

Some talk of sex. Talk of how the father got a vasectomy (is shown on the operating table) but they still had another child after the operation. When asked about his 12 children, Tom smirks about his wife: "I couldn't keep her off me." Part of the plot concerns the oldest child (an adult) moving in with her boyfriend (which does not bother her parents) and whether they should be allowed to sleep together when they visit the family.

Language

Some verbal taunting from bullies. The high school-aged boy is mocked for being the "new kid" from "the country." One of the younger kids is tripped, and the bully says, "Walk much?" 

Consumerism

Crate & Barrel featured prominently. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Cheaper by the Dozen is a 2003 movie in which Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt play the parents of 12 children who try to find a way to balance their own career dreams and the responsibilities of raising their large family. The movie includes some schoolyard-style naughty words and PG-style sexual references that get close to a PG-13. When asked about his 12 children, Tom smirks about his wife: "I couldn't keep her off me." He explains that he had a vasectomy but did not wait for it to become effective, resulting in the second set of twins. And part of the plot concerns the oldest child (an adult) moving in with her boyfriend (which does not bother her parents) and whether they should be allowed to sleep together when they visit the family. Some verbal taunting from bullies. Some audience members may be offended by the portrayal of the family as vaguely Catholic, with references to Jesus and a rosary but no evidence of religious observance. There is comic peril with some minor injuries. The product placement (Crate & Barrel) is particularly (and annoyingly) intrusive.

Wondering if Cheaper by the Dozen is OK for your kids?

Parents: Set preferences and get age-appropriate recommendations with Common Sense Media Plus. Join now

Continue reading Show less

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byglide October 31, 2016

turned it off after 10 minutes

I didn't have the energy to explain to my 10 and 12 year old what a vasectomy
was - there was a bit too much innuendo - right at the beginning - and it wa... Continue reading
Adult Written byMatt B. August 28, 2016

Great kids movie

This about a family with 12 kids. A must see family movie.
Kid, 10 years old September 12, 2020

awesome movie

This is the funniest/most entertaining movie I have ever seen!!!!!!!!!!!
a great family movie night selection!!! if you watch this plz watch it with your famil... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old June 28, 2020

What's the story?

Steve Martin plays Tom Baker, a coach who is offered his dream job at his alma mater just as his wife Kate (Bonnie Hunt) hears that her book about the family has been accepted for publication. The 11 children still living at home don't want to move, but Tom promises that it will make them a stronger and happier family. But the new job is very demanding, and when Kate has to go on tour to promote the book, Tom is quickly overwhelmed by the challenges of taking care of his children.

Is it any good?

CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN is not a movie; it's a product, with a script right off the assembly line and direction on automatic pilot. Its intended audience of older tweens and teens will probably enjoy it very much. But those who care about that audience will be disappointed that the people behind this movie don't ealize that they owe those children some imagination and sincerity. The movie takes its title and family size from the classic book about the real-life Gilbreth family but has no other connection to the original and is inferior to it in every aspect.

There are the predictable "aww" moments (death of a pet, reminder that the kids might fight with each other, but they really love each other) and the predictable "ewww" moments (one child barfs and another slips and falls on it). The script is slack and lazy, incapable of a satisfying resolution for even the most reliable family-movie plot devices like a mean bully or snobby, over-protective neighbors.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the parents work together to make sure that they achieve a balance between time for work and time for each other. 

  • This movie was a remake of a 1950 movie of the same title that was modernized for contemporary audiences. Why is Hollywood fond of remakes? What would be the challenge in remaking a movie on family that is over five decades old? 

  • How is pratfall violence used for the sake of comedy? Why is it funny for some to see people fall over and break things? 

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love family tales

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate