Despite his mad comedic and musical skills, Steve Martin seems to have a habit of making “bad” movies. Many of his earlier works (i.e. The Jerk) received more than their fair share of negative reviews upon release. And, while those films are now being hailed as comedy classics, the future of his more-recent works aren’t looking so optimistic. One such example is the Cheaper By The Dozen series. The first film was lukewarm at best (frankly, I only watched it because I wanted to see Tom Welling do something other than his Clark Kent bit). I didn’t even know that a second film came out, so this Blu-ray presentation was my first experience with it.
Like Steve’s Pink Panther films, the possibility of Cheaper By The Dozen 2 becoming a must-see classic in the next two decades is unlikely. The story has Tom Baker (Martin) feeling a bit over the hill. As his children grow up, they are becoming less interested in family outings. And so, as an act of middle-aged parental desperation, Tom, his wife (Bonnie Hunt), and their clan of kiddies head out to the lake for a “final” excursion.
Unfortunately, Tom’s age-old “I can do that better” rival, Jimmy Murtaugh (Eugene Levy), is livin’ large across the lake with his well-behaved and well-read offspring (one of whom is played by that werewolf kid from that Twilight franchise), and his new buxomy bride (Carmen Electra). It doesn’t take long for the rivalry to commence between the two dads — and from there on in, we bear witness to one embarrassing moment after another as Tom tries his best to outdo Jimmy. Meanwhile, romance begins to bloom between Tom’s oldest son Charlie (Welling) and Jimmy’s daughter Anne (Jaime King), and likewise with Tom’s tomboy tween daughter Sarah (Alyson Stoner) and Jimmy’s son Elliot (that werewolf kid from Twilight).
Between the lakeside setting and constant contention between families, Cheaper By The Dozen 2 feels like a nothing more than a retread of an ‘80s preteen-kids-go-to-summer-camp flick. And, since the movie is aimed at families, the formula is suitable: as Sunday afternoon fodder for the whole family, Cheaper By The Dozen 2 is decent (and relatively clean) entertainment. But, if you’re over the age of 13 and you’re looking for a vehicle that will show off the talents of two great comedians like Steve Martin and Eugene Levy, Cheaper By The Dozen 2 will leave a lot to be desired.
Plus, some viewers may have a hard time envisioning families with twelve kids that aren’t members of either the Baptist or Mormon church (joke).
On Blu-ray, Cheaper By The Dozen 2 gets a decent 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC transfer. Presented in a 2.39:1 widescreen ratio, the film looks pretty good for the most part. Colors are pretty strong (the final family race really stands out), and the contrast is fairly nice — especially when you consider this is a just another catalogue title release (the disc is only 25GB, as opposed to the usual 50GB we get with Blu-ray discs). A 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio lossless soundtrack comes through just fine, with most of the activity being presented through the front speakers (it’s not a rock’em sock’em kinda film, you know). Additional audio options in French and Spanish (both 5.1 Dolby Digital) are also available, as are English (SDH) and Spanish subtitles.
On the whole, the HD video and audio aspects of this Blu-ray release really aren’t enough to warrant an upgrade (providing you actually own the original SD-DVD release to begin with). Worse still, the special features for Cheaper By The Dozen 2 have been recycled from the older Standard Definition issue of the film, and include an audio commentary with director Adam Shankman, a couple of uninteresting featurettes, and two trailers for the film. Sadly, none of these bonus items are presented in High Def, so I really can’t see any point in you buying this — unless you can find it for less than $10.