Cheaper by the Dozen

Rated 3.0 Shawn Levy’s updated remake of Cheaper by the Dozen, a minor classic from 1950, is most enjoyable when it’s being amiably anarchic and farcical. While the original was also a period piece, the new one revels in a superficial sort of contemporary topicality—with two trendy parents (Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt) pursuing careers while also raising a dozen kids.

Delightfully rambunctious and not quite real in the comic situations, this version of the Dozen family is charming in its chaos. But while the switch to tearjerker mode is effectively done, there’s something vaguely scary about the family’s reassertion of its emotional bondedness.

Even with the emphasis on a comedy of character imperfections, the simplifications in Cheaper feel like some sort of live-action cartoon—and that remains as true with Martin and Hunt’s glossy parenting as it does with Ashton Kutcher’s character as the farcically disposable boyfriend.