Notes from a Byzantine-Rite Calvinist

27 December 2003

A pro-life movie?

Yesterday my wife and I went on our annual (or is it bi-annual?) excursion to a movie theatre, where we saw the new Steve Martin comedy, Cheaper by the Dozen. Although it is ostensibly a remake of the 1950 version, starring Clifton Webb and Myrna Loy, the two films have little to do with each other plotwise except that both are about families with 12 children.

Like every other Steve Martin movie, this one is full to the brim with physical humour. Although it is hardly destined to become a classic, we liked the movie. To begin with, it is unusual nowadays for families with large numbers of children to be portrayed in a sympathetic light. The culture of Hollywood and the larger entertainment industry is generally pro-choice on the abortion issue. Yet here is a family of 14 being looked down upon by the affluent single-child family across the street, and the latter, especially the snooty mother, are made to look the heavies.

Second, the plot revolves around the career ambitions of the parents getting in the way of a healthy family life. The lesson appears to be that responsibilities to their children require parents to make sacrifices. Imagine that! In this respect, the movie probably has more in common with The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (1956) than with its earlier namesake.

In short, this is a bit more than harmless cinematic fun and is worth seeing.

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