Film: Cheaper by the Dozen

"Sarah, your suspension from lacrosse for excessive force has been lifted, so you're going today... Henry, you have band practice, all right? I cleaned your clarinet. Please don't play with your food in your mouth again. Kim and Jessica, your teacher called and has made a request that you do not correct her in front of the class. Mike, you have show-and-tell today. And please, honey, remember that body parts do not count. Kyle and Nigel, you have a dentist appointment at 3:00, so you're going to work with Dad."
— Kate Baker (bear in mind this covers barely half the kids)

2003 film starring Steve Martin about him, his wife and their twelve kids. Count 'em, twelve.

Very Loosely Based on a True Story, in that there was a 1948 book and 1950 Film of the Book also called Cheaper by the Dozen which had a family with twelve kids in it. The original book is set in the 1920s and was written by Frank Gilbreth Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey. That's the only similarity. The Gilbreth children were: Anne, Mary (1906-1912), Ernestine, Martha, Frank Jr., William, Lillian, Frederick, Daniel, John, Robert and Jane. The authors wrote a sequel called Belles on Their Toes which follows the family after Frank Gilbreth, Sr's death. Mrs. Lillian Gilbreth (the mother) served as an adviser to five American presidents (Hoover, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Kennedy & Johnson); she and her husband are part of a permanent exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution. As of July 2010, Frederick is the last surviving sibling of the original twelve.

Plotwise, the family is happy, but packs up and moves an unspecified distance from a small town into the suburbs of Chicago so the Dad can pick up his dream job coaching his old college football team. The kids are variously disappointed by this, but grudgingly go along with it anyway.Having left home, the family gets another shock - Mom's gonna get her book published! Mom goes on a book tour, leaving the family in her husband's hands for a few days. Hilarity Ensues as total chaos erupts. One kid runs away, the family chases him down (leading to a nice You Are Not Alone moment), Dad realizes what his job has done to his kids and both he and his wife resolve to put family first.

A generally inoffensive family comedy.

A sequel was released, running with basically the same premise but a different plot, in which the family goes to a lake for a vacation but run into an old rival of Dad's—-who has a big family of his own. Naturally, everyone else ends up hitting it off well, which ultimately leads out to some fallout with the fathers and their families, but they make up in time to win a contest. Meanwhile, the oldest daughter gives birth to her first child.

As inoffensive as the former, but performed much poorer at the box office.

Plays straight pretty much every trope listed under Family Tropes, Sibling Tropes and The Parent Trope.


This film provides examples of:

  • A Boy and His X: Beans the frog is Mark's confidant. The fact that nobody seems to care about Beans' death is what convinces Mark to run away.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: "You soaked his underpants in meat. That was wrong. Funny! But wrong."
  • Adorkable: Hank.
  • Book Ends: The film starts with Kate listing negative or neutral things the family associates with the number twelve, and the film ends with her listing positive things the family associates with number twelve.
  • Bratty Halfpint: Sarah. Especially when she's torturing Lorraine.
  • Child Hater: Hank. He flat out calls Nora's siblings monsters. (This was after they set his pants on fire.)
  • Child Prodigy: Kim and Jessica are very brainy for their age.
  • Enfante Terrible: Again, Sarah.
  • Food and Animal Attraction: The kids prank the Nora's boyfriend by dipping his underclothes in meat and setting the family dog on him.
  • Happily Married: Tom and Kate are still very much in love.
    Tom: Were you just checking me out?
    Kate: Maybe I was.
    Tom: Twelve kids later, and we still got the heat!
  • In Name Only: The only similarity it has with the book is that there are twelve kids.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Dylan gets a injured by a grown man falling on him. It was still his best birthday ever.
  • Massive Numbered Siblings: The Baker clan has, well, a dozen.
    And yet, it doesn't make them a Baker's dozen.
  • Meaningful Echo: Shortly after moving to Chicago, Mark draws a picture of their old house, which is his "Favorite place in the world" After he runs away, the police tell Tom that they searched train and bus stations. He claims that his son wouldn't take a train or a bus. Nora then says that she always wanted to run away to Chicago, which was her "Favorite place in the world". This makes him realize exactly where Mark has gone.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Tina.
  • Out of Focus: Most of the kids aside from Mark.
  • Shirtless Scene: Tom Welling's character briefly appears shirtless (unsurprisingly, given how often his character on Smallville did.)
  • Single-Minded Twins: Both pairs of twins act quite similar to each other. It's more noticeable with Kyle and Nigel, since they're identical.
  • Tomboy: Sarah.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Lorraine delivers one to her dad towards the middle of the film.
    Lorraine: You just used your own son as a vomit mop!
    • Charles also gives one to him (towards the end of the film).
  • The Three Certainties in Life: Hank notes, "All I'm saying is families are inevitable; they're like death or taxes."
  • The Unfavorite: Mark, a.k.a. "Fedex", at least in the eyes of his siblings


The sequel provides examples of:

  • Call Back: When he gets fed up with Jimmy, Tom asks Sarah if she's still "in touch with [her] dark talents." She sets up the same meat trick she pulled in the first movie.
  • Demoted to Extra: Mark. He was the main character, aside from the parents, in the first movie, but is barely in this one.
  • Disaster Dominos: The destruction of the clam bake. It all starts when Mark absentmindedly sets his backpack full of fireworks next to an open flame.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Lorraine and Sarah have entered this even deeper than in the first film.
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: Mark never even mentions his frog.
    • It could be interpreted as Mark having moved on after losing Beans.
  • Hidden Depths: Sarina is initially presented as Jimmy's Dumb Blonde trophy wife, but she truly wants to be a good mother to her stepkids. When she sees the wedge that Jimmy's pressuring and obsession with upping Tom is driving between himself and his kids, she sets him straight.
  • Instant Birth, Just Add Water: Averted. Nora is giving hints all day that she's going into labor. She keeps her mouth shut though, so it won't ruin the contest for the family. Until her water breaks in the middle of the final event and she finally has to admit she needs to go to the hospital. There's still a significant amount of time from then until the delivery, though.
  • Lots of Luggage: When Lorraine shows up at the cabin, Sarah keeps jabbing at her for her huge suitcase. "So is this one just for your makeup?"
  • Nautical Knockout: This happens to Tom.
  • Put on a Bus: All the supporting cast.
  • Trophy Wife: Sarina, Jimmy's new wife of "six wonderful months."
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Jimmy Murtaugh and his new trophy wife, Sarina.
  • Unlucky Extra: The poor old man in the wheelchair. Every time he is on screen, he somehow gets pushed into the water. You think he would put on his parking brake, or have someone park him in a less precarious spot.