The original Cheaper by the Dozen came out in 1950; based on a true story, it was basically about the end of an era. In 2003, this kind of celebration of American fecundity seems anachronistic, if not downright absurd. If this version of Cheaper by the Dozen is really "about" anything, it appears to be about marketing, featuring appearances by popular TV stars Hilary Duff, Tom Welling (Smallville), and an uncredited Ashton Kutcher. Duff plays a cliché of a vain, prissy teen. Welling's character is woefully underdeveloped, as evidenced by the irritating loose end that is Charlie's story arc. Kutcher is mildly irritating, but gets one of the film's sparse laughs when he, playing a self-involved actor, spoofs his own questionable talents. The rest of the kids, while playing a tight-knit family, oddly appear to be total strangers -- Hollywood brats connected only by their seeming desire to out-moppet each other for valuable screen time. Okay, some of them are cute, but it's indicative of the film's shoddy efforts at characterization that, at the end of the film, when one boy mentions that two of his siblings hate each other, it comes as a total surprise to the audience that just spent 90 minutes with them. The movie's comic centerpiece involves the kids' elaborate scheme to get the family dog to attack Kutcher's crotch. Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt, who play the parents, are talented comedic actors. Hunt puts her all into her role, and manages a few genuine moments, while Martin, apparently realizing this is one of his "dumb" comedies, plays to the cheap seats. It's difficult to say that he's the worst thing about such a mediocre and pointless film, but there's nothing more frustrating than watching a smart, talented performer debase his gifts this way.
by Josh Ralske review