Cheaper by the Dozen (2003 film)

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Cheaper by the Dozen
A man holding up his wallet, a long strip of photographs of all his family and children hangs from his head to his feet
Theatrical release poster
Directed byShawn Levy
Screenplay by
Story byCraig Titley
Based on
Produced by
CinematographyJonathan Brown
Edited byGeorge Folsey, Jr.
Music byChristophe Beck
Distributed by20th Century Fox[1]
Release date
  • December 25, 2003 (2003-12-25) (United States)
Running time
99 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States[1]
Budget$40 million[3]
Box office$190.5 million[3]

Cheaper by the Dozen is a 2003 American family comedy film directed by Shawn Levy. It is a remake of the 1950 film of the same name. Both films were inspired by the semi-autobiographical book Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank Bunker Gilbreth Jr. and his sister Ernestine Gilbreth Carey. The 2003 version stars Steve Martin, Bonnie Hunt, Hilary Duff, Tom Welling, and Piper Perabo. This film and its sequel have little connection with the original source material.

The film was released on December 25, 2003, by 20th Century Fox and grossed $190 million worldwide against a $40 million budget. The Rotten Tomatoes critical consensus criticized the film for its lack of humor.[4]

A sequel, Cheaper by the Dozen 2, was released in 2005. Another remake was released in 2022 on Disney+.


Tom Baker is a football coach at a small rural college in Midland, Indiana, where he raises twelve children, and his wife, Kate, has written her story in a book and hopes to send it to her friend to publish the book. One day, Tom unexpectedly receives an offer from his old friend and football teammate Shake McGuire to coach at his alma mater in his hometown of Evanston, Illinois. Tom accepts the offer, and demands all the children vote on moving. Despite losing the vote, Tom has the entire family return to Evanston for a better home and space. The atmosphere at the Bakers' new house is tense and the situation at school is even worse.

When her book is ready to pick up for publication, Kate is required to do a national book tour to promote it. 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, and her self-absorbed boyfriend, Hank, to manage the children. When Nora and Hank arrive, the children plan to make Hank the target of their prank by soaking his underwear in meat and assisting the Bakers' pet dog, Gunner, to attack him by biting his buttocks, prompting him to refuse to assist in babysitting. As a result, Nora drives off with Hank, while Tom lectures them for their prank. After Kate departs for her book tour, Tom realizes that he cannot handle the children on his own after a chaotic night. In an attempt to handle the situation, Tom tries to hire a housekeeper. However, nobody is willing to work with a family as large as the Bakers, so Tom decides to bring the football players from work into the family's house for game practicing in the living room to prepare for the Saturday night football game as the children perform chores and their household games. However, the children start causing trouble at school and Charlie, the Bakers' oldest son, is removed from the football team. Kate overhears from the 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 instead.

Despite helpful motivation from Kate, the Bakers are not able to demonstrate the loving, strongly bonded family that Kate described in her book. When Mark becomes upset that his pet frog has died, a heated fight erupts moments before the segment starts, leading the cameramen to call Winfrey to cancel it. Mark runs away from home, prompting the rest of the family to find him. Following advice from Nora, Tom figures out that Mark is trying to go 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 begin to address their issues with each other, and Tom ultimately resigns from his position at his alma mater with Shake.




The film's director Shawn Levy makes a cameo as a reporter. Jared Padalecki has an uncredited cameo as an unnamed bully that causes problems for Charlie. Wayne Knight has an uncredited cameo as Pete, the electrician whose repairs on the family's chandelier cause him to fall off of his ladder in two different incidents.


"Cheaper by the Dozen" Soundtrack
No.TitleWriter(s)Performed byLength
1."I'm Just a Kid"Simple PlanSimple Plan1:24
2."Help!"Lennon–McCartneyFountains of Wayne1:12
3."In Too Deep"Sum 41Sum 412:46
4."What Christmas Should Be"Hilary DuffHilary Duff3:10
5."Life Is a Highway"Tom CochraneTom Cochrane4:26
6."These Are Days"10,000 Maniacs10,000 Maniacs3:39
7."Rockin' Robin"Leon RenéMichael Jackson2:33
8."Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree"Johnny MarksBrenda Lee2:06
Total length:21:16

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


Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes the film has a 24% rating based on reviews from 119 critics and an average score of 4.58/10. The site's consensus reads: "In this family of twelve children, much chaos ensues, but little hilarity."[4] On Metacritic, the film received a weighted average score of 46 out of 100 based on 30 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[5] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an A− grade.[6]

Despite this, the film was given "Two Thumbs Up" from Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper on their television show.[citation needed] Ebert in his review for the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 3 out of 4 stars and called it "lighthearted fun".[7]

Robert Koehler of Variety was critical of the uneven tone of the film, varying between "schmaltzy/gooey and slapstick/gross-out" and wrote that it was "as far from the original pic and its autobiographical memoir source as it can be while retaining the same title" but predicted a wide ranging audience for the film.[8]

Box office[edit]

The film ranked at #2 for the weekend, grossing $27,557,647 in its opening weekend ($35,397,241 including its Thursday Christmas Day gross of $7,839,594) from 3,298 theaters for an average of $8,356 per theater ($10,733 average per theater over four days), being kept from the top spot by The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. The film went on to gross $138,614,544 in North America, and an additional $51,597,569 internationally, for a total gross of $190,212,113 worldwide, nearly five times its $40 million budget.[3]


Ashton Kutcher was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actor for his performance in this, Just Married and My Boss's Daughter but lost to Ben Affleck with Daredevil, Gigli and Paycheck.[9][10]

Association Category Recipients Result Ref.
Kid's Choice Awards Favorite Male Movie Star Ashton Kutcher Nominated
Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie: Blush Hilary Duff Nominated [11]
Choice Breakout Movie Star – Male Tom Welling Nominated
Choice Movie Liplock Piper Perabo and Ashton Kutcher Nominated
Young Artist Awards Best Young Ensemble Cast Cast (under 18) Won
Best Young Actor Age Ten or Younger Forrest Landis Won
Best Young Actress Age Ten or Younger Alyson Stoner Nominated
Golden Raspberry Awards Worst Actor Ashton Kutcher Nominated [9][10]

Home media[edit]

The film was released on VHS and DVD on April 6, 2004.[12]


  1. ^ a b c d "Cheaper by the Dozen (2003)". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved January 19, 2020.
  2. ^ "Cheaper by the Dozen (2003)". BFI. Retrieved December 6, 2020.
  3. ^ a b c "Cheaper by the Dozen (2003)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 16, 2014.
  4. ^ a b "Cheaper by the Dozen". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved December 18, 2019.
  5. ^ "Cheaper by the Dozen". Metacritic. Retrieved September 28, 2017.
  6. ^ "CinemaScore". Archived from the original on December 20, 2018.
  7. ^ Ebert, Roger (2003). "Cheaper by the Dozen". Chicago Sun-Times.
  8. ^ Koehler, Robert (November 30, 2003). "Cheaper by the Dozen". Variety.
  9. ^ a b Silverman, Stephen M. (January 26, 2004). "J.Lo Heads List of Razzie Nominees". People. Meredith Corporation. Retrieved June 19, 2020.
  10. ^ a b Germain, David (March 1, 2004). "'Gigli' voted worst in Raspberry Awards". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Block Communications. Retrieved June 19, 2020.
  11. ^ "2003 Teen Choice Awards Nominees". Billboard. Valence Media. June 18, 2003. Retrieved May 20, 2015.
  12. ^ "Cheaper by the Dozen (2003) - Financial Information". The Numbers.

External links[edit]