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Cheaper By The Dozen is a 2003 American comedy film about a family with 12 children (seven boys and five girls)
The film takes its title from the 1948 biography of the same name of Frank Bunker Gilbreth and Lillian Moller Gilbreth and their 12 children, but other than the title and the concept of a family with 12 children, the film bears no resemblance to the book nor its movie adaption. The film was directed by Shawn Levy, who also helped produce the sequel Cheaper By The Dozen 2. It was released on Thursday, December 25, 2003 by 20th Century Fox.
Kate Baker (Bonnie Hunt) narrates a story about her large family: her husband Tom (Steve Martin) is a football coach at a small rural college, Kate is hoping to publish her book on parenting, and all while they manage their twelve children, eleven of which live at home. When Tom unexpectedly receives an offer from his old friend to coach at a large university, the family moved to Evanston, Illinois despite the protests of their children. The family's second child, Charlie (Tom Welling), is reluctant to leave his girlfriend, Beth (Tiffany Dupont), and the others simply don't want to leave their friends and home. The atmosphere at the new house– which is absolutely huge– is tense, and the situation at school is even worse. Charlie is harassed for being a "country boy" and the family's seventh child, Mark (Forrest Landis) is bullied.
When Kate's book is ready to pick up for publication, she is required to do a national book tour to promote it. Tom proves unable to balance his new position and maintenance of the household, so he hires the family's oldest child, Nora (Piper Perabo) and her boyfriend Hank (Ashton Kutcher) to manage the younger children. The children detest Hank, and makes him the target of antagonistic pranks, prompting him to refuse to assist in baby-sitting. Chaos ensues at a neighbouring child's birthday party, for which the younger children were forbidden to go due to getting in fights at school and not doing chores, resulting in major property damage and the hospitalization of Dylan Shenk (Steven Anthony Lawrence). Kate is forced to cut short the book tour to take charge of the situation. Her publisher decides to create additional promotion for the book by inviting The Oprah Winfrey Show to tape a segment about the Bakers in their home. Despite much coaching from Kate, the Bakers are not able to demonstrate the loving, strongly bonded family that Kate described in her book. When a fight erupts before the segment starts, it is cancelled.
As a result of the fight, Mark feels unwanted and runs away. Despite the efforts of the Bakers, their friends, and the police, the family are unable to find Mark. However, Tom indulges a hunch that Mark is attempting to run back to the family's old home from the beginning of the film, and eventually found Mark on a train departing from Chicago to Midland, Indiana. Reuniting with the rest of the family, they realize that despite all that has happened, they are still a strong and caring family, and they begin to address their issues with each other and with the upheaval of moving to the city. Ultimately, Tom resigns from his position at the university and settles for a less time-consuming job, but the family decided to stay in Evanston. The film ends with Kate's narration explaining that the Bakers is closer as a result of their experiences, and that Kate's book was successful because of their strength.