Picks and Pans Review: Cheaper by the Dozen

updated 01/12/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/12/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

FAMILY/COMEDY

Steve Martin, Bonnie Hunt

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This tale of a household crammed with 12 children is adequate entertainment for kids, but it feels older than the nursery rhyme about the lady in the shoe. No wonder. It dates back to a bestselling 1948 memoir that was made into a film the following year. Moved to the present with Martin as a college football coach and Hunt as his wife, an aspiring writer, it's full of the sort of antics—a frog lands on the breakfast table and splatters eggs—that the ancients dubbed "shenanigans." Martin and Hunt (see story page 109) preside over the chaos with the requisite humor and strained dignity, but the only one to cut through the cutesy clutter is an unbilled Ashton Kutcher (the star of director Shawn Levy's last movie, the awful Just Married). As the oldest daughter's male-model boyfriend, he's vain, stupid and unexpectedly appealing in his absolute ignorance of family values. (PG)

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