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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 8+
Based on 37 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. 


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. 


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.


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?" 


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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 10 year old Written bygeorges113 October 11, 2009
sexual references including a dog who attacks a boy's genitals and starts to lick them and eat them because his underwear was dumped in meat (while still c... Continue reading
Adult Written bygarfield2711 January 8, 2010

A great film.

This is a great film for tweens and older kids. The oldest Baker child lives with her boyfriend but this is clearly looked down upon. Language is kept to a mini... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old July 31, 2009

Dozen times the trouble!

This is SUCH a funny movie! I have it at home and LOVE to watch it! It's about this couple that has a dozen kids! (Literally!) There's two parts that... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byBethany331 January 1, 2015

Great fun!

This is a really fun and lively movie. It's comedy and really great for the whole family!

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

Themes & Topics

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