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$190.2 million[3]

Cheaper by the Dozen is a 2003 American family comedy film directed by Shawn Levy, and stars Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt. The film was released on December 25, 2003, by 20th Century Fox and grossed $190.2 million worldwide against a $40 million budget.[3] The Rotten Tomatoes critical consensus criticizes its lack of humor.[4] A sequel, Cheaper by the Dozen 2, was released in the United States on December 21, 2005.

It is a remake of the 1950 film of the same name. Both films were inspired by the real life Gilbreth family and the semi-autobiographical account of their lives as written in Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank Bunker Gilbreth Jr. and his sister Ernestine Gilbreth Carey.


College football coach Tom Baker and his author wife, Kate, have raised their twelve children: Nora, Charlie, Lorraine, Henry, Sarah, Jake, Mark, Jessica, Kim, Mike, Kyle, and Nigel, in the town of Midland, Illinois. Kate narrates throughout the film and has written about the family's life story in her book, which she hopes to publish. Tom accepts a job offer from his friend and colleague, Shake McGuire, to coach at his alma mater in Evanston. However, the kids oppose it and are unwilling to leave their friends. The atmosphere at the Bakers' new house quickly becomes more tense, and Charlie and Mark are bullied at their respective schools.

Kate embarks on a national book tour to promote her newly published book. Tom hires Nora and her self-absorbed model/actor boyfriend, Hank, help look after the other children while Kate is away. Disliking Hank and realizing that he hates kids, the younger children trip him into their pool filled with dirty water and soak his underwear in raw meat while Hank takes a shower. At lunch, the children later unleash their dog, Gunner, onto him. Nora and Hank storm off, and Tom punishes the children by cutting off their allowances. After a chaotic night, Tom realizes he cannot handle the children on his own. He tries to hire a babysitter, but no one is willing to work with a family as large as the Bakers, so Tom brings the football players to practice in the living room for Saturday night's football game, as the children do their chores. However, the younger children escape and crash their neighbor, Dylan Shenk’s birthday party, which they had been forbidden to attend after Tom grounded them for fighting in school and not doing their chores earlier. When a frustrated and homesick Charlie is kicked off the football team, he accuses Tom of moving for himself and not for the family. Tom discovers that Nora and Hank sneaked in and slept over against the family's rules, and Hank upsets Nora by saying he does not want children and expects her to feel the same.

Kate gets a call from the children about the chaos, and cancels her book tour. Her publisher decides to create an additional promotion by inviting Oprah Winfrey film the Bakers in their home instead. Despite Kate's coaching, the Bakers cannot recreate the loving, strongly bonded family she described in her book. When Mark becomes upset that his pet frog, Beans, has died, Sarah tells him that nobody cares. The argument causes a heated fight to erupt and the producers decides to tell Winfrey to cancel the filming. As a result of the fight, Mark runs away from home. After Nora mentions that she used to try to run away as a kid to Chicago, her favorite place in the world, Tom has a hunch that Mark is trying to return to the Bakers' old home, and finds him on a train en route to Midland. The Bakers finally reunite and begin to address their issues with each other. At the end of the film, Tom resigns from his alma mater to spend more time with his family, and the Bakers celebrate Christmas together as the chandelier in their living room breaks and crashes down to the floor.




The film's director Shawn Levy makes a cameo as a reporter.


"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 d "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]