[Screen It]

(2005) (Dennis Quaid, Rene Russo) (PG)

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Comedy: When their single parents unexpectedly marry and bring their disparate families together, eighteen siblings conspire to break up the relationship so that they can go back to the way they used to live.
For the many Beardsley kids, constantly moving to new places is a fact of life, especially when their dad Frank (DENNIS QUAID) keeps moving up the chain of command in the U.S. Coast Guard and may soon replace his superior (RIP TORN) as the commandant of the entire organization.

Even so, it isn't easy for his eight kids -- Ethan, 4 (TY PANITZ); 6-year-old twins Otter (BRIDGER PALMER) and Ely (BRECKEN PALMER); Kelly, 8 (HALEY RAMM); Harry, 10 (DEAN COLLINS); Michael, 12 (TYLER PATRICK JONES); Christina, 16 (KATIJA PEVEC); and William, 17 (SEAN FARIS) -- especially since their mother has been dead for a number of years. House manager Mrs. Munion (LINDA HUNT) is there to help around each new house, but with Frank's tightly disciplined family unit, things run rather smoothly.

That's in sharp contrast to widow Helen North (RENE RUSSO), Frank's high school girlfriend who's now an artsy, clothing designer whose manager, Max (JERRY O'CONNELL), is trying to land her a lucrative department store job. Helen thrives on disarray and chaos, two conditions in which her kids -- Aldo, 4 (NICHOLAS ROGET-KING); 8-year-old twins Marisa (JESSICA HABIB) and Bina (JENNIFER HABIB); Lau, 9 (ANDREW VO); Joni, 10 (MIRANDA COSGROVE); Jimi, 11 (LIL' JJ); Mick, 12 (SLADE PEARCE); Naoko, 14 (MIKI ISKIKAWA); Dylan, 16 (DRAKE BELL); and Phoebe, 17 (DANIELLE PANABAKER) -- thrive.

Their paths meet again when Frank is reassigned to run the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut alongside old friend Darrell (DAVID KOECHNER). It's there that Frank runs into Helen at their high school reunion. Sparks and feelings are immediately rekindled and the two get married on a spur of the moment whim -- much to the shock of their kids who are then forced to move in together in a large lighthouse home along the coast.

With the siblings being unaccustomed to their new step-parent's different style of parenting as well as the behavior and attitudes of their new stepbrothers and sisters, the eighteen kids end up clashing. Realizing they were better off before this new scenario, they decide to put aside their differences and conspire to do whatever it takes to drive a wedge between their parents in hopes that they'll eventually split up.

OUR TAKE: 3.5 out of 10
Here's the story of a lovely lady
Who was bringing up five boys and just as many girls.
All of them were wild kids, like their mother,
The oldest one unlikely in pearls.

Here's the story, of a man named Beardsley,
Who was busy with eight kids of his own,
They were seven men & two girls living all together,
Yet they were all alone.

Till the one day when the designer re-met this admiral.
And they knew if they got hitched at late hours
That they'd form -- a very large family.
That would appear in the remake of "Yours Mine and Ours.

The Beardsley Bunch, The Beardsley Bunch,
That's the way...they became the Beardsley Bunch.

The Bradys? Heck, they only had six kids. The Bradfords stopped at the titular suggestion in TV's "Eight is Enough." The Bakers in "Cheaper By the Dozen" almost hit the baker's dozen total, but still came up six kids short compared to the Beardsley-North clan in "Yours, Mine & Ours."

Originally released back in 1968 (and presumably what helped green-light TV's "The Brady Bunch" the following year), the film starred Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball as the mega-breeders who, despite their ages (he being 63 at the time, while she was 57) managed to keep up with their commingled kids' shenanigans.

Likely spurred on by the family friendly success of "Cheaper by the Dozen" two years ago, we now get a remake of the Fonda/Ball film (not to mention a sequel to "CBTD" in a few weeks). This time, however, the leads are a bit younger (Dennis Quaid and Rene Russo both being 51), but the gist is still the same.

Two contrasting groups of siblings are brought together through marriage and the hilarity ensues. Or so hopes director Raja Gosnell ("Big Momma's House," the two "Scooby Doo" films) who works from Ron Birch & David Kidd's adaptation of the original screenplay (they earlier penned "Head Over Heels"). It's been decades since I saw the original film, and while I can't recall much in the way of particulars, I seem to remember finding it both entertaining and charming (at a less critical stage of my life).

It's likely today's kids could have the same reaction as a) they'll probably identify with the kids who clash with their siblings and b) might just enjoy watching those kids -- that range from preschoolers through older teens -- trying to outsmart their parents via various pranks.

You can't fault a film for playing on the kids' level, but that certainly doesn't mean it has to play down to them. And adults -- as well as savvy kids -- will probably see it that way. And that's because they'll instantly recognize that the filmmakers have taken the easy way out of setting up and then executing the plot where the warring factions of kids put their differences aside so that they can collectively get their newly married parents to break up.

Aside from the little ones, I doubt many will be surprised that all of the siblings will end up bonding over their tactics and then realize -- almost too late -- that they really want to be together (after all, this isn't a juvenile black comedy). Accordingly, they'll then race to stop their all too effective plan from completing its mission.

Okay, so we know things have been simplified and recognize the predictable nature of what will transpire over the course of the film's nearly 90 minute runtime. The question that remains is whether the cast and crew manage to do anything particularly imaginative, funny or maybe even insightful or moving with the material.

The answer, unfortunately but not all that surprisingly, is that they don't (although the film does have just enough of a cuteness factor to it that goes a little way in making things more palatable). The Beardsley clan -- led by Quaid -- is a highly disciplined, ship-shape family where everything is regimented and nothing is out of order. Conversely, the North family is a communal group of bohemians where chaos rules.

Despite the simple contrasts between the two, there's still room for some clever interaction, but the ensuing clash and attempts at humor fall flat. As do the various attempts by the eventually allied kids in driving a wedge between their parents. Most of that pretty much boils down to slapstick and more chaos, but it's all surprisingly bland.

It also doesn't help that with so many characters, most are resigned to one-note characteristics while some are barely personified, let alone identified by name. Those embodying the more notable ones are okay, but can't overcome those performance-limiting factors, thus making them pretty much interchangeable with the kids from "Cheaper by the Dozen."

As the adult couple -- who dated in high school only to elope not long after being reunited at their high school reunion -- Quaid and Russo are okay, but he's pretty much stuck with responding to slapstick situations or being driven crazy by the chaos, while she cringes at his authoritarian ways. All of that's supposed to be funny, but it gets old rather quickly and without any sort of imaginative flair thrown in.

All of that said, I might have the same reaction now to the original film, but my memories make me think it would probably be a much better bet than this film. Probably entertaining enough for less discerning younger kids but probably a chore for everyone else, "Yours, Mine & Ours" rates as a 3.5 out of 10.

Reviewed November 2, 2005 / Posted November 23, 2005

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