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Cheaper By The Dozen Reviews Have Arrived, See What Critics Have To Say About The Disney+ Remake

Zach Braff and Gabrielle Union in Cheaper By the Dozen.
(Image credit: Disney+)

Disney+ is set to release another remake of Cheaper By the Dozen — the third movie to come from the 1948 novel of the same name. After a 1950 version starring Clifton Webb and Myrna Loy, the version today’s audience is likely more familiar with is the 2003 remake starring Steve Martin with a classic performance alongside Bonnie Hunt as the parents of the large brood. This new iteration, directed by Gail Lerner, adds a twist to the story, as Zach Braff and Gabrielle Union star as the parents of the multiracial, blended family. 

Braff and Union are leading the way, but as the film centers around the hectic lifestyle of a large family, the children play big parts as well. Some may recognize a couple of the young actors — like Journee Brown (Orange Is the New Black) and Kylie Rogers (Yellowstone) — but get ready to be introduced to some fresh faces amongst the cast. Critics have had the chance to screen the film, so what are they saying about the newest on Cheaper By The Dozen?

Let’s take a look at what the reviews are saying, starting with our own CinemaBlend review. Dirk Libbey rates Cheaper By the Dozen 2.5 stars out of 5, saying the cast is impressive and contains more diversity than the previous movies — the ensemble includes multiple ethnicities, and one daughter uses a wheelchair — which is “wonderful to see.” But the movie tries to squeeze in so many plot points that some of the characters end up shortchanged:

The characters are all solid and Cheaper by the Dozen does its best to give each member of the family, including cousin Seth (Luke Prael), who joins the story midway through, their own arcs. But as one might expect with a cast this large and a runtime significantly shorter than The Batman, that's tough to pull off.

Ferdosa of ScreenRant also rates the Disney+ film 2.5 out of 5 stars, calling the movie “insincere” and that the creative choices seek to be diverse, but don’t provide any real representation: 

What's most noticeable is that Cheaper by the Dozen doesn’t have the undeniable charm of the 2003 version. The modern remake lacks sincerity. Paired with choppy editing, bland humor, undefined perspectives, and muddled social commentary, it makes it all the more difficult to argue in favor of the remake's existence. It doesn't help that the film looks and feels like an ABC family comedy, something that would be slated alongside the series Black-ish.

This sentiment is echoed by Josh Spiegel of SlashFilm, who rates Cheaper By the Dozen a 3.5 out of 10 – saying this remake that “not a whole lot of people were asking for” feels like an executive decree for diversity without any true creativity or wit:

There's room to explore the concept of a blended family struggling to lead a life with a dozen people involved, especially if that family is multiracial in the mid-21st century. Yet ‘Cheaper by the Dozen,’ every time it tries to walk down a thornier path, seems to be guided away by executive fiat to ensure that nothing gets too dicey. There was potential here, but it goes unrealized.

Courtney Howard of Variety says Cheaper By Th Dozen's noteworthy commentary on poignant issues is often eclipsed by poor character development and inconsistent pacing. However, its heart is in the right place, and the updates serve to strengthen the story’s legacy:

What makes this version stand out are the heartrending, heartfelt additions to the narrative and character motivations. They discuss pressing topics like racial profiling, prejudice and white privilege with great craft and care. They also tailor this family’s travails to suit the deft performance skills of leads Braff and Union, who both deliver comical and conscientious work.

Elizabeth Weitzman of The Wrap says Gabrielle Union is “flawless” as Zoey Baker, but like the other critics, Weitzman says the film is guilty of telling the family’s story rather than showing it.

Just like the product placement, the many frank discussions of privilege, race, and racism are laid atop the movie rather than woven into it. The comic setups are as old as the original source material. Frenetic pacing substitutes for entertainment.

The critics seem to agree that adding diversity to this familiar story is a definite upgrade, but many find Cheaper By the Dozen unsuccessful in developing its many characters and tackling social issues due to the limited screen time. You can check out Cheaper By the Dozen for yourself, and from the comfort of your own home, as the film will be available for streaming on Disney+ on Friday, March 18.  

You can also check out what else is available in vast library of movies on Disney+, and be sure to peek at our 2022 Movie Release Schedule to see what’s coming soon!

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Can usually be found rewatching The West Wing instead of doing anything productive.