starring Steve Martin, Bonnie Hunt, Piper Perabo, Tom Welling
screenplay by Sam Harper
directed by Adam Shankman
by Walter Chaw I spent altogether too much time during Cheaper by the Dozen 2 anticipating the moment when Hilary Duff would snuffle some sugar cubes out of a little girl's hand--but in my defense, what else was there to do? I feel strange saying that this film is unwatchable because, hey, I'm proof that, technically, it is watchable; I guess I should say that it's highly inadvisable to watch this film. I want to be clever, to turn a phrase that better illustrates the point, but in cases like these it's probably better to be straightforward. If you find yourself in a theatre with this film, leave. It's awful. Director Adam Shankman is the Uwe Boll of family movies: he doesn't know how to pace a picture, he has no idea what to do with a camera (check out an outdoor banquet sequence that looks like it was shot under muddy water), and his use of John Debney's atrocious, hate-crime of a score should set off Amnesty International's radar. This is film as punishment, I'm serious. It's never funny, never insightful, never valuable in any way. Kids might like it in the way that kids like anything that's short and kinetic, yet the film preys upon a consistent mass hunger for "family" entertainment, and children and idiots deserve better supervision. Family films in the United States seem defined only as having no "objectionable" content, such as non-cartoon violence, a whiff of poetry, or any hint of sexuality. At the risk of being a rebel, let me offer the heretical view that the only content that's truly objectionable is witless sludge like Cheaper by the Dozen 2.