½*/**** Image A- Sound A Extras C-
starring Dennis Quaid, Rene Russo, Rip Torn, Linda Hunt
screenplay by Ron Burch & David Kidd, based on the screenplay by Melville Shavelson and Mort Lachman
directed by Raja Gosnell
by Walter Chaw Hand it to deal-with-the-devil Raja Gosnell's Yours, Mine & Ours, a worthless update of the mostly worthless Henry Fonda/Lucille Ball original: at least it hurries up and cranks Admiral Frank (Dennis Quaid) and hippie-chick Helen (Rene Russo) into holy matrimony. But then, it's not about the parents--it's about getting covered in goop and obnoxious kid gags, so once we jettison the only two possible reasons to see this shipwreck (ignoring poor Rip Torn and Linda Hunt in perfunctory supporting roles), we're offered eighteen adorable reasons to open our wrists and tie our tubes. You know the drill: disgusting food jokes, barf jokes, fart and poop and piss and pet jokes, sped-up moments, weird references to The Parent Trap, and then the obligatory soupy plot machinations that get the arch-enemy family camps to join forces to manufacture a feel-good throb of family against all odds. As Robert Altman himself couldn't work a miracle with these twenty-two main characters (eighteen of them pre-adolescent), maybe it's not fair to expect Gosnell to conjure something watchable from this infernal clips reel of children screaming--but one did have the reasonable expectation that he wouldn't twice humiliate Quaid in silly-noise-augmented slapstick scenarios.
There's not one cogent thing to write about Yours, Mine & Ours that you probably haven't figured out already, its themes of class struggle between the warring tribes (one group, spiced by adoption, looks like a UN meeting; the other like a Klan rally) hardly worth mentioning since they're picked up and dropped with equal haste. Russo's performance is of the breathy, exasperated variety in order to best simulate what it's like to be a free spirit struggling under the yoke of society while Quaid's forehead vein delivers its own commentary on what it's like to be eternally on the verge of being an actor of substance instead of just one of immense likeability. I should mention that I don't entirely understand how a pot-bellied pig becomes a central character in a film already bursting with human beings, nor why Gosnell, in his infinite wisdom, decided to make the pig appear to be as intelligent as its co-stars, magnifying every grunt into a proclamation from Charlton Heston on the mount. Perhaps there's not much value in doubting a picture that has as its sole purpose the uncanny mimicry of the stupid faces and noises people make at babies. It's either what Gosnell thinks of you or merely the extent of his abilities, but no matter which scenario, Yours, Mine & Ours is a waste of fucking time.
Paramount brings Yours, Mine & Ours home in a grotesquely-augmented package whose 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and DD 5.1 audio are commensurately bright. You can see and hear everything in appalling detail is what I'm saying (though some edge-enhancement assists on the video front), and I make no further judgment about whether or not that's a good thing. The first said atrocious accoutrement is a feature-length commentary from Gosnell that, among other things, reveals how cool he thought a crow looked and how he got the star swine to run faster by terrifying it with a rake. Gosnell proceeds to name-check each of the children as if we give a shit before trailing off into extended reveries to watch what he has wrought unfold before him. That, or he's having a series of quiet strokes, thus demonstrating that all evidence to the contrary, he actually has some insight into what his audience is experiencing.
"Yours, Mine & Ours: Inside the Lighthouse" (16 mins.) spends a perverse amount of time showing clips from the film and B-roll while Gosnell offers that he thinks this film is about consequences. (His career is proof that there are no consequences to films like this.) Meanwhile, the adult cast gathers to regurgitate plot. Why? I haven't the first foggiest clue. It looks like something that probably played on Nickelodeon as an extended trailer or buffer between deadening CGI cartoons. "18 Kids, One Script: The Writing of Yours, Mine & Ours" (6 mins.) is misleading mainly because it presupposes that there was a script. The writers proudly inform herein that they didn't seek to remake the original so much as generate their very own piece of crap. "Casting the North Family" (7 mins.) sees the casting directors talking over audition tapes of the children reading the imaginary script in a room that looks like it has carpeted walls. Classy. Where are protective services when you need them? "Casting the Beardsey Family" (7 mins.) has the casting directors again speaking over audition tapes of the children reading the...yeah, never mind. "Your Big Break: Advice for Aspiring Young Actors" (6 mins.) is like that white van driving down your street, playing ice cream truck music in the middle of the night. If you let your kids get lured into a Raja Gosnell film, you probably deserve to have your kids in a Raja Gosnell film. A few of the child actors chime in on how hard it is to act like a kid in a bad kid flick. When one of the casting ladies utters the immortal phrase "work on their craft," well, surely you jest.
"Setting Sail with the Coast Guard" (3 mins.): Gosnell explains that the transition of the main character from Navy to Coast Guard had to do with 9/11 and the new focus on national security. Turns out I learned something after all. A Coast Guard spokesman says they wanted to collaborate on Yours, Mine & Ours because they like it when people pay a lot of money to produce a recruitment film for them. A "Behind The Scenes Video Diary" (8 mins.) arms the children with digital cameras, through the magic of which we get to see lots of games of paddy-cake, cutting up, tongues, and so on. Good Christ--if this DVD had a throat, I'd be punching it. Two deleted scenes with optional yakking answer the question of where the hell the wedding proposal went--listen to Gosnell's track to discover that the reason he cut out this important bit of exposition is that it's not right "rhythmically" for the rest of the film. To which the response might fairly be, is Gosnell the best person to ask about pace? This is the longest 90 minutes I've spent since the three years it took me to finish Gosnell's own Big Momma's House. Two trailers for this dog's breakfast are included along with that thing about not pirating movies followed by forced trailers of movies that no one would pirate if they fell off a truck in front of their house: Aeon Flux, Last Holiday, All You've Got, and, of course, "The Brady Bunch" Season Four. Originally published: August 2, 2006.
87 minutes; PG; 2.35:1 (16x9-enhanced); English DD 5.1, French DD 5.1, English Dolby Surround; CC; English, Spanish subtitles; DVD-9; Region One; Paramount