Starting With The Sequel.
Hello everyone and welcome back to #moviemonday. It is November first, it is a new month so let’s keep moving onwards and upwards.
Today I’m doing something a little out of order, I’m starting with a sequel. Over the weekend I sat down and I watched a childhood favourite of mine – Cheaper by the Dozen 2. I wanted to watch something upbeat and lighthearted after a month of watching horror movies, and this movie ended up being my choice. The reason I am talking about the sequel before I talk about the original is because the stories are not connected. In the sequel, we are given an entirely new story and a different antagonist.
This movie was released in 2005 and it was directed by Adam Shankman.
Let’s dive into Movie Monday.
This movie follows Tom Baker as he and his wife Kate take their twelve kids to the lake for one last family vacation before some of the kids fly the nest. At the lake, Tom runs into an old rival and the two become determined to compete in the family contest for the cup. What was supposed to be a friendly game quickly turns into the two fathers being highly competitive because it has become personal, it has become about parenting styles. Ultimately this movie is about what it’s like when your kids start growing up and they need you less. It’s a bittersweet time and Tom Baker is learning that while he’d love to hold on to his children, he has to let them go.
Tom Baker is our lead protagonist. He is a football coach, he is a loving father, he is struggling to accept the fact that his children are growing up and becoming independent. They need him less and this is a fact that he was not prepared for. He believes that kids are the way they are and that they need love and guidance. He disagrees with Jimmy Murtaugh’s parenting style, he thinks that so much pressure will surely make a child crack. He wants to compete for the family cup. He wants his entire family to do one last thing together before they inevitably start going their separate ways. He’s a loving father and a great character, but he lets his competitive side get the better of him.
Jimmy Murtaugh is the movie’s antagonist. Technically, because he isn’t a bad person, but he is misguided. He thinks he is doing what is best for his children. He loves them, he is proud of them, but he has taken his tough love and expectations too far and he struggles to understand that his children are their own people and that he has to let them make decisions about their lives for themselves.
Kate Baker is Tom’s wife. She is fed up by Tom’s competitive nature, and she keeps reminding him throughout the movie that the tighter he holds on, the more the kids will want to pull away. Kate is a loving, understanding mother, and she wants her children to know that they can come to her no matter what. Kate is an accomplished writer and she is the one who narrates the movie.
Serena is Jimmy’s third wife. She is young and beautiful, and extremely kind. She may seem like a stereotypical ditz at first, but Serena is caring and very emotionally intelligent and she is the one who finally breaks through to Jimmy and makes him realise that he is hurting his kids.
The kids are the ensemble, and some kids have more prominent storylines than others. The movie begins with Lorraine Baker’s graduation, she is due to move to New York and this is one of the things that Tom is struggling with. Nora Baker is married and she is pregnant. She and her husband Bud are figuring out what they should name their baby. Charlie Baker is trying to figure out what he wants his next move to be, and Sarah Baker experiences her first crush and first date on this vacation.
Annie Murtaugh is Jimmy’s superstar. He expects her to join him at work because in his opinion she is corporate material. Unfortunately, Annie dreams of going to art school, and she doesn’t know how to tell her father. Elliot Murtaugh is Sarah Baker’s first crush, and he reciprocates her feelings. The two go on a date in the movie. Charlie and Annie also go on a date.
This is a fun, family friendly movie so the themes are not too complex but that doesn’t mean they aren’t touching. The movie’s most prominent themes are love and family, growing up, and the idea of a parent letting their child fly the nest.
Ultimately, this is a movie about family. These two families love each other, and they don’t do everything perfectly but that’s okay. Both sets of parents just want to do what’s best for their children, and I think Nora’s line “There’s no way to be a perfect parent, but there’s a million ways to be a really good one.”, sums this movie up quite nicely. Tom and Kate aren’t perfect parents, neither are Jimmy and Serena although Jimmy’s kids may appear perfect on the surface at the beginning of the movie.
I think this movie is heartwarming, and very funny, but it still shows the very real bittersweet emotions that come with watching your kids grow up and need you less, they start to do things independently and parents have to let them. There is this idea that parents want to get their children ready to face the world, but then when that times comes, they struggle to let go, and this is what Tom is struggling with.
As always, Steve Martin is the ultimate dad. I love how Steve Martin portrays Tom Baker, he’s loving, and imperfect, but he is a family man and while yes he does get swept up in the competition, he’s not a controlling father. At times he’s a little overbearing, and he does embarrass his kids, but in the end, he knows that his kids will find their own way and he’s proud of each and every one of them.
There are a few firsts in this movie. Nora is having her first baby, Lorraine is moving into her first apartment, Sarah and Elliot go on their first date. These are very important moments in a child/teenager’s life. These moments are mixed with excitement and nerves, and the parents watch on proudly but also with a few tears because that’s another first done with, and it is yet another signal that the kids are growing up.
If one was to take a deeper look at this movie, there is an element of nature vs nurture. Tom and Jimmy have completely different parenting styles. Tom is more laid back, while Jimmy has very high expectations. His children are high achievers and they appear perfect from the outside looking in, but Serena tells Kate that his children are miserable and that she fears he will push them away entirely if he doesn’t accept that he has to let them make mistakes, and more importantly, he has to let them make decisions for themselves.
Tom’s kids seem more wild but they are good kids. They are a tight knit unit and the kids do achieve things too. They all are finding their own paths and Tom is more understanding of the fact that kids will screw up sometimes, but they have to because that’s part of life.
I remember my own dad telling me once that one of the hardest things to do as a father is to allow his child to fail, because when something goes wrong and your child is upset, it may be because of a failed test or an interview that didn’t go well, or a first breakup, but seeing your child upset and being unable to fix it is hard, but those moments are necessary. We all have to experience failure so that we can grow and learn.
I also think that this movie demonstrates that just because your kids are grown up, it doesn’t mean that you stop being their parent. You always worry, you always love them, and the bond doesn’t end, it just changes. I also think it’s interesting watching this movie through adult eyes now, because so much of the movie’s message is true, we all do grow up, and things change but the love doesn’t go away. I need my mam less now than I did when I was little but today she’s one of my best friends. Our bond will never end, it’s just a different bond now, and that different bond is a good thing.
This is a fun movie with a structure that is easy to follow. The movie is just over an hour and a half long, and I actually think that this is the perfect length. It’s not too long or too short. Kate is the movie’s narrator, and since she is a writer, her monologues at the beginning and the end read as though she is writing another book about the events of the summer.
Lorraine’s graduation at the start of the movie sets the tone. A child has achieved something. This is a milestone. This represents change. It is Lorraine’s graduation, and Nora’s pregnancy, and the fact that all of the Baker kids are doing their own thing now that prompts Tom to want to go on one last big family vacation. So it’s decided, we’re going to the lake.
The lake is where the body of the movie occurs, and when we meet Jimmy Murtaugh, his and Tom’s rivalry is set up very nicely. We get all the information we need quickly, and it isn’t hard to figure out how this movie will play out.
The movie’s climax is the competition for the cup. The entire movie has been leading up to this moment, and I won’t say what happens at the competition because that would be a spoiler, but this competition and what happens at the competition, highlights just how close the Bakers are. Nothing is more important than family.
I think that this movie does a good job of showing not telling us what is happening, and I also was very impressed with how this movie juggled so many storylines without anything feeling rushed or out of place. The important moments were done really well, and with so many kids having first moments, the movie did a really good job of letting us see the build up to those moments, and then letting those moments play out. For example, we see Sarah asking Tom if she can go on a date with Elliot. This is her first date. We see her getting ready for it. We see her as she is nervous and excited, we see her parents see her off, and then we see Sarah and Elliot at the cinema.
My final thoughts are that this is a fun, lighthearted but still heartwarming movie. It was a welcome change after a month of horrors as it is a childhood favourite of mine. It’s fun, it’s easy watching, and it’s great for laugh. I’d highly recommend it if you need a pick me up.
This has been Movie Monday. I hope you enjoyed it. Have you see Cheaper by the Dozen 2? Let me know.