Life in the Baker house is as chaotic and hugger-mugger as life in the original 1950 Cheaper by the Dozen Gilbreth house was well-ordered and organized. I think I like the in-name-only remake better — not necessarily as a story, but as a picture of large families.
The Gilbreths were certainly disciplined and well-behaved, but there was also something a bit "off" about the whole family, and one could be excused for getting the definite impression that only a professional efficiency expert like Mr. Gilbreth could even think about having so many offspring.
By contrast, the Bakers may not be the ideal family — discipline can be lax, and a brief early scene establishes that Tom Baker (Steve Martin) had a vasectomy after the first ten kids. On the other hand, everyone seems more normal, and we see that it’s okay for an ordinary shmoe like Martin’s college football coach to have a dozen kids, and even if it gets crazy at times it’s ultimately worth it.
A satirical subplot skewers modern anti-family sensibilities, lampooning an uptight couple who’ve imposed only-child status on their lonely son and look down on the Bakers for their "irresponsibility." And the main story, while formulaic, emphasizes the need for parental sacrifice in putting career after family.
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