Cheaper by the Dozen (1950)

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Cheaper by the Dozen (1950) Movie Poster Image
Old-fashioned upbeat family comedy with sad ending.
  • NR
  • 1950
  • 86 minutes

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Stands out for positive role models.

Positive Messages

Big families headed by loving, but strict parents can be successful. At the same time, when kids assert their independence reasonably, parents must learn to be flexible. In times of crisis, families should stick together.

Positive Role Models

The parents of 12 kids are shown as loving, reliable, and committed to their children's education and good behavior. The father's over-involvement is tempered by the mother's restraint and wisdom. Set in 1921 gender roles are old-fashioned; the father thinks he has the final word. However, it becomes apparent that Mrs. Gilbreth is a highly educated woman who will later find great success in the business world. No ethnic diversity.


Innocent teen flirtation.


"Jackass" and "fatty."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Cheaper by the Dozen, which is set in the 1920s and based on a true story, offers a rosy look at parenting a very large family, but surprises at the end when one of the principal characters dies (off camera). The death is unexpected and significantly changes the upbeat, life-affirming tone of rest of the movie. Other than its sad ending and a scene in which a representative from Planned Parenthood is made the butt of jokes about birth control and large families, it's a sweet, but thin, depiction of the values, activities, and customs of a time gone by.

User Reviews

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

We liked it but...

There was a bit too much of the coming of age rebellion - being boy crazy, dressing for peer acceptance - and it was a bit risque in parts. Some of the langua... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byVeronique J. March 13, 2020

Awesome movie, and definitely family friendly

Such a good movie! Families with lots of kids will be able to relate. I would have no problem with a 7 or even 6 year old kid watching it. Parents might want to... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bybookbot March 28, 2017

Funny Family in a Funny Film

Cheaper by the Dozen(1950) has dated gender roles, but it is absolutely hilarious! There are children of all ages, from 0-16. There is a sad ending, but the fam... Continue reading

What's the story?

Based on a classic memoir by one of the older Gilbreth girls, CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN is the story of a family that delights in its size, its uniqueness, and its ability to deliver well-rounded, intelligent citizens to the world. It's 1921. Frank (Clifton Webb), an efficiency expert, and Lillian (Myrna Loy), a psychologist, are educated, economically-comfortable folks who love their dozen children. We watch them weather all sorts of humorous calamities -- wholesale tonsillectomies, changing schools, first proms, summer at the seashore, and more. Late in the film, however, a tragedy occurs which forces the family to reassess their lives and take on new purpose and responsibility

Is it any good?

It's old-fashioned from its acting style, uncomplicated characters, and story line, to the ease with which problems are solved. Still it's fun, innocent, and, until the sad ending, a likeable picture of an idealized family nearly 100 years ago.

The 2003 version with Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt is not actually a remake, and has only the title and size of the family in common with this earlier movie which was inspired by the real Gilbreth family.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the changes in family life and relationships over nearly a century. How are families still the same or different? Which changes do you see as positive? Negative?

  • How does the relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Gilbreth foreshadow the "co-parenting" that exists in many homes today?

  • Ann's rebellion seems tame compared to kids who want to be independent today. Do the stakes seem higher now? What are some positive ways a teen can show a parent that he or she is ready for more freedom?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love watching together

Themes & Topics

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