2005-12-23 / Columnists


By Robert Snyder

Hollywood is cashing in on political incorrectness with films promoting unplanned parenthood.

“Cheaper by the Dozen” with Steve Martin raked in $138.6 million. Now in a race to beat the soon-to-be released “Cheaper by the Dozen 2” is “Yours, Mine & Ours,” a remake of the 1968 Lucille Ball-Henry Fonda classic. Unfortunately, the new “Yours” lacks not only a Lucille Ball and a Henry Fonda, but a Steve Martin.

What it has are Dennis Quaid and Rene Russo, competent but not comical actors. It also has a lot of kids. Quaid’s widower, Coast Guard Admiral Frank Beardsley, has eight, while Russo’s widow, handbag-designing earth mother Helen North, has 10 (the Fonda-Ball film had it the other way around: 10 for him, 8 for her).

Following the lead of Martin’s movie, director Raja Gosnell tries to make uptight military man Beardsley into a slapstick buffoon, slipping and sliding during a home renovation, shopping spree and sailing jaunt. Russo doesn’t even try to be funny, not attempting Ball’s famous spiked-drink drunk scene in the original film.

The lackluster script by Ron Burch and David Kidd is based on the original, which was loosely adapted from Helen Beardsley’s  autobiographical “Who Gets the Drumstick?” While making no concession to birth control, the new “Yours” does play to political correctness by having Helen’s brood be a multi-cultural and racial mix. No, she is not promiscuous. Six of the 10 are foster children, whom she and her deceased husband adopted.

Although the break-up-the-marriage kid conspiracy is borrowed from the Ball-Fonda movie, the new “Yours” skirts over the most funny and endearing aspects of the classic: the aging couple’s courtship. In the first film, it is during her introductory dinner with the admiral’s kids that they spike her drink, but included are other scenes focused on the adults winning each other over before marriage. The updated “Yours” has the two as former high school sweethearts, who cross paths at a restaurant in the midst of separate blind dates. Love is instantly rekindled with little or no foreplay. Because Hollywood has exclusively targeted kids and teenagers in their marketing master plan, it’s no wonder that mature dating problems are swept under the rug and best left for the “Sex and the City” T.V. crowd.

Those wishing for some unplanned parenthood family entertainment should either wait for upcoming “Cheaper 2” or rent the 1968 “Yours, Mine and Ours” on DVD and  have a ball.

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