17 November 2005 | eichelbergersports
Leave this Thanksgiving turkey in the oven; see the original
The advent of mixed families is certainly more relevant today than it was when this film was originally made in 1968 (with Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda in the leads); but that doesn't make this newer version a better film not by a long shot.
That movie was quaint and cute for it's time, had a great, emotional conclusion and even inspired the television series, "The Brady Bunch."
This is by far one of the worst films of the Year of Bad Films. It is directed by Raja Gosnell (which is appropriate because he was responsible for both horrid Scooby-Doo movies) as if he were hit on the head with a huge circus mallet. This picture tries to combine joy, love, comedy, pathos and crude slapstick into a rollicking family good time.
It doesn't work. The leads, Renee Russo ("Two for the Money") and Dennis Quaid, "Flight of the Phoenix"), have no chemistry and the children all amazingly attractive, but talentless are nothing more than annoying and idiotic. The situations they are tossed into are far-fetched, ridiculous and, worst of all, totally unfunny. Not the best thing to say about a comedy.
Frank Beardsley (Quaid) is a widower with eight mostly cute blonde, blue-eyed children, and a Coast Guard Admiral, to boot. He runs the family well, like a Coast Guard Admiral, constantly blowing his hornpipe, having them fall in and organizing them into work groups. After moving to New London, Conn. in one of the great plot conveniences of all-time, he meets widow Helen North, a free-spirited handbag designer who knew Frank in high school.
Within one jump cut and without meeting each other's offspring the two tie the knot. Thus, when the families finally get together, the kids naturally hate each other. Among these "actors," there is every type of cliché; a Boy Scout, a military cadet, a cheer- leader, a punk rocker, a grunge singer, a couple of sets of twins, two precocious little boys, and other assorted goofballs.
Also, to keep things as diverse and politically-correct as possible, Helen adopted six of hers, including some Mexicans, Indians, a jive black dude and a gay Asian. It's like the floor of a Democratic National Convention.
Add to this mishmash a pot-bellied pig (why directors think a strange pet is funny is way beyond me remember the duck in "The Pacifier"?), who makes about 100 appearances, including at a hardware store, at the kids' school, and in Frank's bed, and you have a recipe for Holiday disaster. It's like having the whole family over and your father gets falling-down drunk and knocks over the tables with the food on it. No, wait, that would actually be humorous. This movie is a bomb like none dropped on the slums of Baghdad by Dick Cheney.
If this film were any more of a dog, it would be dragging its butt across the driveway. And, after the 10th fight in which the children mess up and destroy the house, a store and everything else in sight, you start to feel a little sick to your stomach.
It was also more than a little embarrassing to see Quaid doing lame slapstick (he gets splattered with paint and vomit, covered with sand, knocked to the ground and falls in a wading pool full of slime), and playing second fiddle to a bunch of little brats. Of course, he deserves it for taking on this role once played so well by Henry Fonda.
Russo, who allows her evil moppets to get away with anything, doesn't fare as bad unless you count her involvement in this travesty. Best to leave this Thanksgiving turkey in the oven, take a few extra minutes and find the original; you'll thank me for it.