As further proof that I see movies for unorthodox reasons, I didn't see this movie for Steve Martin, Bonnie Hunt, Hilary Duff, or the presumed warmth of family values. It was that irrepressible little dancing machine, Alyson Stoner that sold this movie for me, and I didn't even know her name until I saw a poster for the 2003 remake. I was hoping that she wasn't going to be the only reason to see the movie, though, and I think I might have just lucked out on that agenda.
Tom & Kate Baker(Steve Martin & Bonnie Hunt) want one last chance to be the big family that they are, before they all go onto their own lives, so they invite everyone to an old cabin on a lake. Charlie(Tom Welling) now works in a garage, hoping to open one of his own, and despite his lack of interest in being part of the Baker Dozen, he jumps at the chance to go to the lake. Hilary Duff has lost a considerable amount of weight. Still, she resumes her role as family fashion-plate Lorraine Baker, who has just graduated from high school, and is on her way to New York for a job as an assistant for a fashion magazine. Having dumped her boyfriend from the first movie, Nora(Piper Pearbo) is married to Bud McNulty(MEAN GIRLS' Jonathan Bennett), and is very pregnant. Despite this, she still wants this last trip to the lake. Most of the other kids seem to serve as little more than human wallpaper, although FedEx(Forrest Landis)inadvertently causes a ruckus with some fireworks.
Along the way, they meet Jimmy Murtaugh(Eugene Levy) an old fair-weather friend of Tom's who has his own big family has bought most of the lake-front, has a bigger house, better toys, and is turning it into a huge upscale resort similar to The Poconos. He also prides himself on being a strict disciplinarian, and having been married to at least three other women before his current wife(Carmen Electra), and frequently rubs his lifestyle and wealth in Tom's face. Now the family fun is over, and both are determined to defeat each other's families in a lakefront competition.
Both Charlie(Welling) and Sarah(Stoner) fall in love with members of the opposite sex from the Murtaugh family, specifically Anne(Jamie King) and Elliot (Taylor Lautner). This only complicates the rivalry even further, although the movie saves itself by not trying to imitate "Romeo and Juliet." Stoner didn't disappoint me too much in this case, as she tries to hide her burgeoning girlish nature from those who know her as the havoc-wreaking tomboy she is. A lot has been made of this subplot as well as the scene where Sarah is caught trying to steal make-up and later agrees to let Lorraine perform a makeover on her for her first date. "Does it have to be pink," she asks. Well if it's a darker color, it wouldn't make you attractive to the boy, but perhaps that's just me. In any case, she doesn't really look that much different afterwards, and although both fathers screw up their date, like I suggested it's not a big tragedy.
For a sequel, it's fine. Not perfect, but fine. People who complain about sequel-mania in modern movies often forget that the original had a sequel too... a somewhat forgotten movie called "Belles On Their Toes(1952)." Having said that, I hope this second movie is the last. Interestingly enough, I also saw the remake of "Yours Mine and Ours" on the same day, but you can probably figure that out by my review of that movie as well.