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 III, 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, and Johnson); she and her husband are part of a permanent exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution. The last surviving child, Frederick, passed away in December of 2015.
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. It was released on December 25, 2003, and grossed $190.2 million worldwide against a $40 million budget.
A sequel was released on December 21, 2005, 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 harmless as the former, but less successful at the box office, grossing $130.2 million worldwide against a $60 million budget.
The films play straight pretty much every trope listed under Family Tropes, Sibling Tropes and The Parent Trope. As a result of this and rather poor writing, many audiences disdain them, but they've also gained enough of a following to provide a character page.
This film provides examples of:
- Aborted Arc: Charlies conflict with being bullied by the city kids.
- Accidental Misnaming: Tom gets Mark's name wrong twice throughout the film. Both times, Mark corrects him. The second time, Tom corrects himself after getting it wrong.Mark: Have you seen my frog, Dad?
Tom: Sorry, Charlie. Nigel. Kyle.
Mark: It's Mark.
Tom: I knew that.
- Actually Pretty Funny: "You soaked his underpants in meat. That is so wrong. Funny! But wrong."
- Adoption Diss: Mark's nickname of "FedEx" is used by his siblings to imply this.
- Always Identical Twins: Averted with Jessica and Kim, but played straight with Kyle and Nigel.
- Ambiguously Related: The Baker kids. Especially Mark. Mark is usually picked on by his siblings, peculiarly Sarah who calls him "FedEx" and claims that he is adopted and that the FedEx guy dropped him off because he doesn't fit in with this family. While Kate narrates all the kids she's given birth to, she mentions Mark.
- Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: None of the Baker kids, especially Sarah, care very much when Mark's frog Beans dies, but when they find out he ran away, they're all shocked and actively take part in the search for him.
- Lorraine and Sarah also have a moment of this, where Mark says when he's reunited with everyone that he figured everyone hated him as Sarah and Lorraine seem to, only for Lorraine to say, "There are times when I'd want to kill Sarah, but I'd kill for her all the time."
- Back-to-Back Poster: Used in the posters for the sequel, featuring Steve Martin and Eugene Levy standing back-to-back. One poster features the two men holding water guns with their respective broods standing behind them, while another features a close-up of the two men holding photos of their children up to the camera. Martin and Levy are playing fathers of rival families at a competition, and the competitiveness of the two fathers is apparent in these posters.
- Big Brother Instinct: The kids have this for each other. When Jake, Jessica, Mike, and Kim find out Mark is being bullied at school, they confront the bullies and give them some Laser-Guided Karma. Subverted in this case though, as Jake is the only member of this group who is older than Mark.
- Big Fancy House: The Bakers' new home after they move house early on in the film.
- Bookends: 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.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: In-Universe. While the Bakers are watching Tom's interview by Fox Sports, he looks into the camera and says, "Go to bed, kids!" Kate turns the TV off and sends the kids to bed.Kate: "OK, you heard the coach."
- Calling the Old Man Out: During a hectic day in the Baker house:Lorraine: You just used your own son as a vomit mop!
- Child Hater: Hank. He puts having a family after death and taxes, and outright calls the kids monsters when the two walk-in on a fight.
- Child Prodigy: Kim and Jessica are very brainy for their age.
- Despair Event Horizon: After the segment with Oprah is ruined, Kate and Tom have all but stopped talking, the children are all at each other's throats and Mark's beloved frog suddenly dies. And then Mark runs away, fed up with all the fighting and feeling neglected by his family.
- Enfante Terrible: Again, Sarah.
- Establishing Character Moment: As the Shenks are approaching the new Baker house after they've just moved in, Tina reveals herself as a Jerkass in her first line when she notices the cartons and cups on the dashboard of the Baker van: "Oh, God. They're fast food people."
- Exiled to the Couch: Implied. Before it's revealed that Mark ran away from home, Kate tells Tom "Feel free to sleep on the couch." Tom replies "You read my mind", implying he was going to anyway.
- Exploding Closet: Kate tries to get a dress to wear for the family's interview with Oprah, which is located inside an overstuffed closet that was filled in by twins Kyle and Nigel in their way of cleaning up the house.
- Fatal Flaw: Pride is Tom's throughout the film. He moves the family to their new home simply so he can pursue his dream job and look good in front of Shake. He also tells Kate he can handle looking after the kids by himself when she goes to New York. Cue an Oh, Crap! from him when she tells him she's gone for at least two weeks, and he has to ask Nora for help, which means she has to give up time from her new job. Understandably, Kate is quite angry with Tom when she comes home. And all of this ends up leading to Mark running away. When Tom catches up to him, Mark tells Tom he didn't keep his promise of them becoming a happier and stronger family.
- Food and Animal Attraction: The kids prank Nora's boyfriend by dipping his underclothes in meat and setting the family dog on him.
- Foreshadowing: A fairly obvious example in which Tom mentions in the first scene how the family could do with change—-of which a lot, of course, ends up happening over the course of the film: Shake's offer to Tom leads to the family moving house, Kate's book is going to be published, the family is pushed to the ragged edge by each other, Mark's frog dies, Mark runs away, and Tom eventually gives up his dream job for the family's sake.
- Early on, when Kate hugs Mark but then gets distracted by Nigel and Kyle wrestling, she looks around for him and sees him cycling away. Mark later snaps and runs away from home when it looks to him like no one cares about him.
- Mark's drawing of the Midland house that he shows to Tom, along with the caption, "My favorite place in the world". When he runs away, he plans on going there, and Tom realizes this thanks to a Meaningful Echo.
- Mark is seen late in the film tending to Beans and at one point begging him not to die. Unfortunately, he does die and the argument that follows Sarah's rude outburst causes Mark to run away.
- From the Mouths of Babes: Nigel and Kyle call Shake a "hot dog" in Shake's first appearance, but only because they'd heard Kate call him that and are probably not aware of what she meant.
- Funny Background Event: As Dylan is taken to the hospital after receiving a broken arm courtesy of Tom accidentally falling on him, Tina (as she tells Tom "Your children are never playing with Dylan again!") can be seen bumping into a door, proceeding to nurse her injured butt as she walks alongside the gurney.
- Groin Attack: A variation, as the kids steal Hank's boxers and soak them in raw meat as he waits for his clothes to be dried, before siccing the dog onto him at the table.
- 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!
- Improbable Infant Survival: Played straight with the Baker kids, averted with Kate's sister, who died as a child in the backstory.
- In Name Only: The only similarity it has with the book is that there are twelve kids.
- Ironic Echo: In the same scene. After Kate tells Tina Mark has run away, Tina says that twelve is just too big a number of kids to have. Kate throws the insult back in her face at the end of the scene.
- It's All About Me: Hank, who is a self-absorbed model and actor who worries about what the Baker kids will do to him when he and Nora visit (to be honest, though, he is right to worry, after they set his pants on fire). Nora doesn't see him for what he is until Mark runs away and Hank doesn't care at all, preferring to watch a commercial of himself on TV instead of going to help.
- Tom too, to a smaller extent. He moves the family to Chicago when it's obvious none of the kids want to go. Why? So he can pursue his dream job and says they will be a happier and stronger family as a result. None of the kids buy it and when Tom catches up to Mark after the latter runs away, Mark tells Tom he didn't keep his promise to the family because they're no happier than they were.
- The unnamed bully (played by Jared Padalecki) of Charlie when he goes to his new high school.
- Tina as well. It's pretty clear from the off that she doesn't like the Bakers because of how many kids they have and their parenting methods. She also seems a snob that fusses over Dylan and shows no sympathy to Kate when Mark has run away. Bill, on the other hand, is much friendlier and promptly agrees to help with the search party.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Most of the kids, who pull pranks and don't care much when Mark's frog dies, but they still feel bad when he ran away, and so still see him as very much a brother and member of the family.Jake: Without you, we wouldn't be the twelve Bakers anymore. We'd be like... eleven.
- Even Tom gets hints of this. He moves the family to Chicago even when none of the kids want to do it, just so he can pursue his dream job and look good in front of Shake (Charlie says later that Shake was a superstar in college, whereas Tom was a loser, while he is Calling the Old Man Out), and becomes something of a workaholic so doesn't see the kids' side when they're either ignored or punished for fighting in school, but of course, he still cares very much about the family and Kate and eventually gives up the coaching job so he can get another job closer to home.
- Jerkass Has a Point: The younger kids are clearly shown to be in the wrong to try chasing Hank away with pranks, but they were right that he was unworthy of Nora's time.
- Kick the Dog: Sarah telling Mark that no one cares about Beans dying, and then calling him FedEx again. Mark shouts at her to stop calling him that, then goes at her, sparking a fight between all twelve kids and their parents.
- Kid Has a Point: When Tom confronts Charlie about the latter being kicked off the football team and attempting to run away back to Midland, Charlie goes into a "The Reason You Suck" Speech where he tells Tom that while he may claim he took the coaching job for the good of the family, the truth is it was less about that and more about wanting to get some glory at his alma mater after being a benchwarmer during his time there. Later on, Charlie apologizes for what he said, but Tom admits he was right.
- Laser-Guided Karma: The bullies who knocked Mark's glasses off and pulled his hat down over his eyes get their comeuppance when Jake, Mike, Jessica, and Kim find out and give them a taste of their own medicine, even if it results in them being punished for it.
- Major Injury Underreaction: Dylan gets injured by Tom falling on him. It was still his best birthday ever.
- Man Hug: Tom and Shake the first time they're onscreen together, at the start of the scene where Shake pitches his offer to Tom.
- Massive Numbered Siblings: The Baker clan has, well, a dozen, seven sons (Charlie, Henry, Jake, Mark, Mike, Nigel, and Kyle) and five daughters (Nora, Lorraine, Sarah, Jessica, and Kim).
- And yet, it doesn't make them a Baker's dozen.
- According to Kate's voice-over early on, Tom had seven brothers and sisters growing up, and after Kate's sister died, she wished she had seven brothers and sisters as well.
- 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.
- Middle Child Syndrome: An interesting example combined with Out of Focus; Henry and Sarah are never shown going to school, while the rest of the kids are.
- Mood Whiplash: Two, involving hugs.
- As Mark is leaving for school at the start and tells Kate he doesn't feel like he fits in the Baker family, Kate tells him he does fit and hugs him, then seconds later gets distracted by Nigel and Kyle wrestling on the lawn.
- After the Oprah segment has to be canceled, Jessica witnesses Tom tell Kate he was going to sleep on the couch and asks if Tom and Kate will get a divorce. Tom wordlessly picks her up and hugs her. Then comes a big moment of shock when Kate appears and tells them Mark has run away.
- My Beloved Smother: Tina acts this way towards Dylan, who wanted "one perfect child", though it's implied Dylan wanted siblings.
- Never My Fault: The kids consistently blame their father for their unhappiness and rarely fess up to the chaos they have created at the expense of each other and their parents. To be fair to them, the cause of some of their unhappiness is Tom's fault, though much of the chaos is squarely down to the kids.
- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Played with. When Jake, Jessica, Kim, and Mike find out Mark is being bullied at school, they give the bullies a dose of Laser-Guided Karma by beating them up. It still gets them punished both by their principal, and then by Tom, who grounds them.
- Noodle Incident: Before Nora and her fiance Hank visit the Baker family, Kate tells the kids not to burn his pants again.
- No Sympathy: Sarah telling Mark no one cares about Beans after Mark tells Kate Beans has died.
- Tina to Kate after Mark has run away, saying that twelve children are too many.
- Hank to Nora, also after Mark has run away. This leads to her breaking up with him.
- Oh, Crap!:
- Tom at the beginning during breakfast when he sees Beans in the lamp above the table, with Mark reaching towards it with his net.
- Tom when he tries to grab Dylan hanging from the chandelier and ends up hanging from it himself.
- Tom has one when Kate calls him from New York to say she will be staying there for longer than expected.
- Henry has a brief moment when he slips on a puddle on Nigel's vomit on the kitchen floor.
- Many people at Dylan's party when the snake the Baker kids got for him escapes from its box.
- When a helium tank gets knocked onto the bounce house, Tom feels it overinflate beneath his feet and he realizes it's gonna blow, just as the bounce house explodes, sending Tom and everyone else flying. Then Dylan gets one when he sees Tom is about to land on him.
- The chandelier contractor after he falls off the ladder and sees the chandelier about to fall on top of him. Again.
- Parents as People: Tom and Kate obviously love and do their best to take care of their kids, but having their attention divided between all twelve of them causes the two to make mistakes.
- Pay Evil unto Evil: The kids' pranks against Hank, who is more Jerkass than evil, but it still counts.
- Mark's bullies are given a dose of Laser-Guided Karma when Jake, Mike, Jessica, and Kim find out what they did to Mark.
- Please Don't Leave Me: A variation. Mark is seen late in the film begging Beans not to die. Unfortunately, Beans does die.
- Rage Breaking Point: Mark reaches it after Beans has died.Mark: Mom, Beans is dead.
Sarah: Nobody cares about your stupid frog right now, FedEx, OK?
Mark: Stop calling me that! (attacks her)
- Reality Ensues: Having twelve kids to divide your attention will mean that someone gets left out, and that they're hard for one adult to work with on their own.
- Also, you may be defending your brother by beating up his bullies, but that doesn't mean you won't get punished for it. Namely, a trip to the principal's office and then being grounded.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Tom gets one from Charlie after Charlie is kicked off the football team due to being bullied. At the end of it, Charlie tells Tom that once he graduates, he's leaving.Charlie: I don't fit in this town, Dad. I'm going back to Midland!
Tom: You are not dropping out of school, and you are not walking out on this family!
Charlie: What family? Ever since we moved here, everybody's been looking out for #1—especially you and Mom.
Tom: Your mother and I are doing what we think is best for everyone.
Charlie: Whoa, whoa, whoa. You did not take this coaching job for us! You took this because you were a loser in college while Shake was out there being a superstar! If you want your shot at glory, Dad, if you wanna have it all, you do what you gotta do. But quit feeding us this line about being a "happier and stronger family". This move was about you! And y'know what? I don't have to sit here and pay the price for your life choices. I'm leaving! (he heads for the door, but Tom stops him)
Tom: You're staying!
Charlie: Are you gonna make me?
Tom: Charlie, I love you. I want you to have the best life you can have. And that means you're getting a diploma.
Charlie: When I graduate, I'm gone.
(He storms out, leaving Tom hurt)
- Rule of Pool: Invoked by the kids as the first part of the plan to get rid of Hank when he first arrives, resulting him in being tripped with a garden hose and landing in a kiddie pool.
- The Runaway: Mark becomes this after Beans dies and Sarah tells him no one cares.
- During the search for Mark, Nora reveals she ran away from Midland a few times growing up, and considered getting on a train to go to Chicago.
- Running Gag: The family's many attempts to install a new chandelier, usually with it falling atop the contractor.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Kate does this to the book tour in New York when the kids call her after the party scene, and Sarah tells her to come home immediately, because of how bad things are.
Cameraman: (Calling Oprah) No, you do not want to come down here. No, it's the farthest thing from a happy family.
- The camera crew setting up for a taping of the family on the Oprah Winfrey show when the family finally collapses into a full-blown fight right in front of them. To add to their disbelief, the segment was to be called "One Big Happy Family".
- Charlie tries to do this by saying he wants to go back to Midland. Tom tells him he is not going to walk out on the family. In the end, Charlie implies he will do this once he graduates, after Calling the Old Man Out. He drives off anyway but does return at some point, as Tom comes to his room later that night to tell him Mark has run away. Charlie tries to apologize to Tom for his "Reason You Suck" Speech and admits that he was out of line, but Tom says he was right.
- Mark does this by running away after Beans dies, saying no one cares about him and it's not until the evening of the same day that anyone notices he has gone.
- Shaking the Rump: Kate does this in front of Tom in one scene ("Twelve kids later and we've still got the heat!").
- Shirtless Scene: Charlie (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.
- Surprise Pregnancy: In the backstory, Tom and Kate had planned on having eight children, but then Jessica and Kim turned out to be twins. They were fine with settling at nine until they had too much to drink at a party and Mike was born nine months later. Tom finally decided to get a vasectomy, but he ignored the doctor explaining that he needed to wait a few weeks for the procedure to be effective, leading to Nigel and Kyle.
- The Three Certainties in Life: Hank notes, "All I'm saying is families are inevitable; they're like death or taxes."
- Triumphant Reprise: Kate listing positive things to associate with the number twelve at the end of the film, as opposed to neutral or negative things as she did at the beginning.
- Before Kate calls Tom after finding out what has happened while she has been in New York, the scoreboard shows the Stallions lost against a team called the Pythons, when the situation at home seems to be at its nadir. At the end, when Tom gives up his job, the same scoreboard is seen again and this time, the Stallions have won against a team called the Ridgebacks, and shortly after that comes a big family hug on the field.
- The Unfavorite: Mark, a.k.a. "FedEx", at least in the eyes of his siblings.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom:
- Mike at Dylan's party. Jake tells him to go get the football they got for Dylan so they can play with it. When he does, he knocks some of the presents over, and the Brazilian mud viper they also got for him escapes. The resulting panic causes Tom to realize the kids have gone, and to enlist the players to round them up, as well as, in trying to get Sarah, Tom ending up breaking Dylan's arm by accident.
- Sarah dishes out a Kick the Dog moment to Mark after Beans dies, causing him to lash out in anger. This causes a massive fight that causes the scheduled Oprah segment to have to be canceled and causing an upset Mark to run away from home.
- Vomit Discretion Shot: Two in the same scene. Nigel sees red sauce on Mike's athletic cup and vomits on the floor thinking that it's blood. Henry comes in and slips on the vomit, causing him to throw up too.
- You Are Grounded: Tom says this almost word for word to the kids when their poor behavior gets out of hand.
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 Dominoes: The destruction of the clam bake. It all starts when Mark absentmindedly sets his backpack full of fireworks next to an open flame.
- Empty Nest: Tom is hit with a bit of this at the beginning. Lorraine has graduated high school about to join Charlie and Nora in moving out. Meanwhile, most of younger kids have aged to the point they can be more independent and want to socialize with their peers instead of the family.
- 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?"
- Stealth Pun: Nora has her baby on Labor Day.
- 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.