Cheaper by the Dozen (2003 film)

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Cheaper by the Dozen
Cheaper by the Dozen 2003 film poster.jpg
Promotional poster
Directed by Shawn Levy
Produced by Robert Simonds
Michael Barnathan
Ben Myron
Screenplay by Sam Harper
Joel Cohen
Alec Sokolow
Story by Craig Titley
Based on Cheaper by the Dozen 
by Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr.
Ernestine Gilbreth Carey
Starring Steve Martin
Narrated by Bonnie Hunt
Music by Christophe Beck
Cinematography Jonathan Brown
Edited by George Folsey, Jr.
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • December 25, 2003 (2003-12-25)
Running time 98 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $40 million
Box office $190,212,113[1]

Cheaper by the Dozen is a 2003 American family comedy film which takes its title from the Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank Bunker Gilbreth and Lillian Moller Gilbreth, but despite the title and the concept of a family with twelve children, the film bears no resemblance to the book nor its Cheaper by the Dozen (1950 film), although it is mentioned that the mother's maiden name is Gilbreth. The film was directed by Shawn Levy, narrated by Bonnie Hunt, and starring Steve Martin. The film was released on December 25, 2003 by 20th Century Fox, ultimately grossing just over $190 million worldwide.[1]


Kate Gilbreth Baker (Bonnie Hunt) narrates her story about her large family in this film: her husband, Tom (Steve Martin), is a football coach at a small rural college in Midland, Indiana, where he raised twelve children. Kate has written her story in a book and hopes to send it to her friend to publish the book. Life at the Midland house is almost perfect for the Bakers until Tom unexpectedly receives an offer from his old friend and football teammate, Shake McGuire (Richard Jenkins), to coach at his alma mater in his hometown of Evanston, Illinois. Tom accepts the offer, and demands all the children to vote on moving. Despite losing it, Tom has the entire family to return to Evanston for a better home and space. The Bakers' second child, Charlie (Tom Welling), refuses to leave his girlfriend, Beth (Tiffany Dupont), and the others simply don't want to leave their friends and home. Despite being given a fancy white mansion as a home by Shake for their move and being significantly larger the atmosphere at the Bakers' new house is tense and the situation at school is even worse. In general, the younger children are harassed at school. Charlie is taunted for being a country boy, while the family's sixth and seventh children, Jake and Mark (Jacob Smith and Forrest Landis), are consistently antagonized by a bully named Quinn (Cody Linley), the twins of the bunch Kyle and Nigel (Brent and Shane Kinsman), begin to cause trouble at school and the Bakers' new neighbors, Tina and Bill Shenk (Paula Marshall and Alan Ruck), are very over-protective of their son and only child, Dylan (Steven Anthony Lawrence), and do not want him to play with the younger kids. Dylan visits the Bakers when he gets into a game of hockey with his friends indoors, which leads to Dylan and Tom hanging on the chandelier which breaks off and smashes on the floor below.

When her book is ready to pick up for publication, Kate is required to do a national book tour to promote it and will not be back home until the entire tour is completed. Tom thinks that he can handle everything in the family's household while Kate is away, so he decides to hire the family's oldest child, Nora (Piper Perabo), and her self-absorbed, kid-hating boyfriend, Hank (Ashton Kutcher), to manage the younger children. However, Hank is reluctant since the younger children have attacked him earlier by setting his pants on fire, but he agrees after Nora begs. When Nora and Hank arrive, the younger children plan to make Hank the target of their latest antagonistic prank by soaking his underwear in meat and letting the family's pet dog, Gunner, attack Hank by chewing his bottom, prompting him to refuse to assist in baby-sitting. As a result, Nora is angry at the younger children and drives off with Hank, while Tom berates them for their prank and cuts off their allowance within a month.

After Kate departs for her book tour, Tom realizes that he cannot handle the younger children on his own after a chaotic night where the house becomes a rampaging stampede during the chores they perform. In reply to this revelation, Tom tries to hire a housekeeper, but nobody is willing to work with a family as large as the Bakers, so Tom decides to bring all of the football players from work into the family's house for game practicing in the living room in order to prepare for the Saturday night football game as the younger children perform chores and their household games. However, the younger children start causing trouble at school in which Kyle and Nigel hurt their kindergarten teacher, while Jake, Mark, and Mike burst in fury and stand up against the bullies by fighting them. When Tom gets complaints about those incidents, he grounds the younger children from any fun and games and forbids them from going to Dylan's birthday party, despite the fact that they already have presents for him. Without Tom noticing them, the younger children suddenly sneak out of the house and head to the party. While Tom is teaching the football players how to win and participate for the Saturday night football game, he notice the guests running out of Dylan's house as one of the children's gifts inside was a snake scaring them away. Tom and the football players decide to investigate the chaos. After the football players successfully capture all the younger children, Tom tries to capture the family's fifth child, Sarah (Alyson Stoner), in the bounce house, but during the mess, a helium tank suddenly jams the air in the bounce house, causing it to inflate and explode. Tom accidentally falls on Dylan, in which he ends up in the hospital. Tina forbids the kids from playing with Dylan, while Shake warns Tom not to bring all the football players to his house or the kids to the department anymore, forcing Tom to cancel the entire Saturday night football game.

Meanwhile, Kate overhears the younger children about the chaos and cancels the book tour to take charge of the situation. Kate's publisher decides to create an additional promotion for her book by inviting Oprah Winfrey to tape a segment about the Bakers in their home. Despite much coaching from Kate, and Kate being furious at Tom for not telling her that he could not handle it, the Bakers aren't able to demonstrate the loving, strongly bonded family that Kate described in her book. When Mark becomes upset that his pet frog, Beans, has died, in which Sarah rudely tells him that nobody cares, a heated fight erupts moments before the segment starts, leading the cameramen to call Winfrey to cancel it. As a result of the fight, Mark feels unwanted and runs away from home, prompting the Bakers to hold their search party to find him. Meanwhile, Nora dumps Hank when he is more focused with watching himself on television instead of searching for Mark. The Bakers call the police, their close friends, and Dylan to join in the search for Mark. However, the Bakers cannot find Mark until Tom indulges a hunch that Mark is trying to run back to the Bakers' old home, and eventually finds Mark on an Amtrak train departing from Chicago to Midland. Reuniting with the rest of their family, the Bakers realize that they have not been a close family and they begin to address their issues with each other. Tom ultimately resigns from his position at his alma mater with Shake and finally settles for a less time-consuming job. The film ends when Kate narrates that the Bakers are closer as a result of their experiences and Tom's decision to love his family more than his job. When Christmas arrives, the Bakers have a massive dinner when the new chandelier in the lobby snaps off and crashes once again.


The Bakers[edit]



A sequel, Cheaper by the Dozen 2, was released in the United States on December 21, 2005. It did not feature most of the supporting cast listed above.


"Cheaper by the Dozen" Soundtrack
No. Title Length
1. "I'm Just a Kid"   1:24
2. "Help!"   1:12
3. "In Too Deep"   2:46
4. "What Christmas Should Be"   3:10
5. "Life Is a Highway"    
6. "These Are Days"    
7. "Rockin' Robin"    
8. "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree"    

Other compositions used in the movie are "Classical Gas" by Mason Williams and Carl Orff's "O Fortuna", among others.


Awards and nominations[edit]

Cheaper by the Dozen has been nominated and won several awards. The following is a list of these:

Result Type of award Category Year
Nominated Teen Choice Award Choice movie blush (Hilary Duff), Choice breakout movie star (male) (Tom Welling), Choice movie liplock 2004[2]
Won Young artist award Best Ensemble Cast
Nominated Best performance in feature film (Alyson Stoner and Forrest Landis)

Critical reception[edit]

The film received generally negative reviews from film critics, with 23% of critics giving a positive review and an average score of 4.6 out of 10 according Rotten Tomatoes, based on 112 reviews.[3] Despite initial reactions, the film was given "Two Thumbs Up" from Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper on their television show, and became a box office hit. The film opened at #2 ranking in US$27,557,647 in its first opening weekend and, despite being knocked off the top spot the following week by The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, went on to gross $190,212,113 worldwide.[1] Ashton Kutcher was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actor for his performance in this, and two other films, but lost to Ben Affleck for his performances in Daredevil, Gigli and Paycheck.[4]


  1. ^ a b c "Cheaper by the Dozen (2003)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2014-03-16. 
  2. ^ "Awards won". IMDB. Retrieved 2007-05-12. 
  3. ^ "Cheaper by the Dozen". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2014-03-16. 
  4. ^ "2003 RAZZIE Nominees & "Winners" - The Official RAZZIE Forum - Page 1". 2011-11-13. Retrieved 2014-03-16. 

External links[edit]