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Cheaper by the Dozen Review

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 9+

Old-fashioned upbeat family comedy with sad ending.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Cheaper by the Dozen, which is set in the 1920s and based on a true story, offers a rosy look at parenting a very large family, but surprises at the end when one of the principal characters dies (off camera). The death is unexpected and significantly changes the upbeat, life-affirming tone of rest of the movie. Other than its sad ending and a scene in which a representative from Planned Parenthood is made the butt of jokes about birth control and large families, it's a sweet, but thin, depiction of the values, activities, and customs of a time gone by.

  • Families can talk about the changes in family life and relationships over nearly a century. How are families still the same or different? Which changes do you see as positive? Negative?
  • How does the relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Gilbreth foreshadow the "co-parenting" that exists in many homes today?
  • Ann's rebellion seems tame compared to kids who want to be independent today. Do the stakes seem higher now? What are some positive ways a teen can show a parent that he or she is ready for more freedom?

The good stuff
  • message true3

    Messages: Big families headed by loving, but strict parents can be successful. At the same time, when kids assert their independence reasonably, parents must learn to be flexible. In times of crisis, families should stick together.

  • rolemodels true4

    Role models: The parents of 12 kids are shown as loving, reliable, and committed to their children's education and good behavior. The father's over-involvement is tempered by the mother's restraint and wisdom. Set in 1921 gender roles are old-fashioned; the father thinks he has the final word. However, it becomes apparent that Mrs. Gilbreth is a highly educated woman who will later find great success in the business world. No ethnic diversity.

What to watch for
  • violence false0

    Violence: Not applicable

  • sex false0

    Sex: Innocent teen flirtation.

  • language false1

    Language: "Jackass" and "fatty."

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not applicable

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false0

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Not applicable