20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Cast: Steve Martin, Bonnie Hunt, Eugene Levy, Tom Welling, Hillary Duff
Extras: Commentary Track, Featurettes, Trailer
"Cheaper By The Dozen 2, " directed by Adam Shankman, is one of those safe yet generic family comedies that's harmless enough to sit through; especially if you have children and are already conditioned to watching such fare with them. As long as you don't go in expecting anything memorable from Steve Martin you should be alright. Having never seen "Cheaper By The Dozen," I can only relate to what I have read about it and how this sequel flows from that one.
"Cheaper By The Dozen 2" picks up a few years later finding the Baker children still growing up and some of them preparing to move on with their lives. Two of the daughters are moving away. One is pregnant and expecting soon, while the other just graduated high school and is going away to college.
Because of this, Tom Baker (Steve Martin) wants another vacation, feeling this may be the last time the entire family will be together.
The movie stars Steve Martin and the ever likable Bonnie Hunt as Tom and Kate Baker, heads of the "Baker Clan," a family of 12. In this sequel, the Bakers head off to the mountains and go to camp. All the original children reprise their roles and are complemented by notable cast members such as Eugene Levy, Tom Welling, Piper Perabo, Hillary Duff and Carmen Elektra.
This time out, we find the Baker clan getting themselves caught up in various generic and comedic misadventures centering on competing with Tom's rival, the overzealous Jimmy Mertaugh (Eugene Levy) and his brood of 8. Jimmy is a wealthy man who fashions himself as an overachiever and seems to think he is better than Tom at everything. This in a nutshell is what the film is about.
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is offering "Cheaper By The Dozen 2" in a 2-disc set. Disc one features a cropped pan and scan version of the movie and I only skimmed through this version for obvious reasons. Overall, for a full screen movie, contrast, colors and clarity were acceptable with some noticeable graininess. Disc one also features a commentary track by director Adam Shankman, which is also ported over to disc two. Also included is a "Fox Movie Channel Presents:" featurette, an 8-minute look at the casting of the Mertaugh children.
Disc two contains the widescreen version of the film in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio in a transfer that is anamorphic and preserves the films' original theatrical presentation. The transfer is much improved over the full screen version as is noted by the lack of graininess and an overall sharper clarity. Much of the film is shot outdoors. The contrast and black levels are suitably balanced for the outdoor as well as indoor scenes. Flesh tones appear natural and color levels are nicely rendered with no bleeding of reds noted.
The audio provided comes as a 5.1 channel Dolby Digital track that is lively and engages all channels when they needed to be. Dialogue from the center channel was clean and clear.
The special features on disc two include the commentary from director Adam Shankman as found on disc one. He offers a warm, friendly and informative discussion featuring a mixture of scene specific as well as some background info related to the filming of the movie. Also included is "Camp Chaos" a 10-minute featurette of behind the scenes information. Finishing up the disc is "A Comedic Trio" a breezy 5-minute discussion by cast members talking about what it was like working with Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt. A few trailers including 2 for the movie itself ties things up – strangely, no trailer for "Cheaper By The Dozen 1" is included
If you or your family is looking for a basically harmless "feel good" family comedy and there's nothing else available, "Cheaper By The Dozen 2" should fit that bill just fine.