Raja Gosnell's big, bland remake of the 1968 blended-family comedy starring Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda as widowed parents who merge their enormous broods with more enthusiasm than forethought is utterly formulaic and pointless. Coast Guard admiral Frank Beardsley (Dennis Quaid), who has eight children and lost his wife a few years earlier, has just been posted to New London, Conn., where he grew up. His high-school girlfriend, designer Helen North (Rene Russo), also moved back after a career-oriented stint in New York; she was widowed four years ago and has 10 children, including a rainbow coalition of six adoptees. They cross paths in a restaurant, get reacquainted at their fortuitously timed 30-year high-school reunion and impulsively get married. Reality begins to sink in when Frank and Helen inform their respective broods that they're moving into a new home by the ocean (the kind of fantasy property that single working parents with 18 children can afford only in movies) with a bumper crop of step-siblings. Well matched though Helen and Frank seem to be, they approach life with diametrically opposed attitudes: Helen is a creative free spirit with a high tolerance for disorder, while Frank runs a tight ship. So it's no surprise that their kids mix like oil and water: The Beardsley youngsters are as neat, disciplined, obedient and respectful as the Norths are messy, unruly, rebellious and argumentative. They disagree on everything except how much they hate living together, but — in what passes for sentimental irony — they learn to get along while conspiring to drive their parents apart. The film's sense of humor is juvenile, leaning heavily towards messing things up and misbehaving animals, and most of the kids get lost in the shuffle. Among those who manage to stand out, Danielle Panabaker is engaging as the oldest North daughter, Phoebe, and Andrew Vo is seriously irritating as Lau North, who's saddled with the kind of sassy, precocious dialogue that screenwriters seem to think is cute. Rip Torn, Linda Hunt and Jerry O'Connell mark time in minor supporting roles as, respectively, Frank's superior officer and his housekeeper and Helen's agent.
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- Released: 2005
- Rating: PG
- Review: Raja Gosnell's big, bland remake of the 1968 blended-family comedy starring Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda as widowed parents who merge their enormous broods with more enthusiasm than forethought is utterly formulaic and pointless. Coast Guard admiral Frank… (more)