Cheaper by the Dozen

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Parental guidance under 8 (Viol.)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Cheaper by the Dozen
  • a review of Cheaper by the Dozen completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 9 January 2004.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 While there is nothing too scary in the movie, due to its content, children under 8 would need some parental guidance.
Children aged 8-13 Children aged 8-13 would be okay to see this film with or without parental guidance depending on the parents interpretation of the content.
Children over the age of 13 Children over the age of 13 should be okay to see this movie with or without parental guidance.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Cheaper by the Dozen
Classification: G
Consumer advice lines: None
Length: 99 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Tom and Kate Baker were childhood sweethearts who met at college, married and went on to have an unusually large family of twelve children. They are living quite happily, if somewhat chaotically, in their middle class lifestyle when Tom is invited to Chicago to coach the Stallions. The Stallions were his old football team and the job offer is Tom’s dream come true; however he has great difficulty persuading the children that the move will be a good one. Kate is very supportive of Tom as she knows what the job means to him but Tom has to promise the family that they will be a much happier and stronger family in their new home. Charlie, the oldest boy, is particularly unhappy about leaving his girlfriend behind.

The Bakers move into their new house which is in a fairly upmarket neighbourhood much to the disgust of their new neighbours. Not long after arriving Kate is given the news that her book “Cheaper by the Dozen” is to be published and she needs to go to New York for a few days. Never having left the children before, Kate is reluctant to leave Tom on his own. However Tom insists that he will be able to manage and sends her off with his blessing. Tom tells the children that while Mum’s away the kids can play, however he’s unprepared for the total chaos that reigns which makes for all kinds of amusing events. The few days turn into two weeks and Tom has increasing difficulty managing his family and giving the commitment to his career that’s required of him. This gives Tom the opportunity to asses what’s really important to him. The crunch comes when Kate decides to come home early and invites the crew from Oprah to film her “one big happy family” who are not particularly happy on that day.


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.


Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is a lot of comic violence done for laughs, including the following:

  • Mark’s frog falls into the bowl of scrambled eggs causing it to spill everywhere. Tom goes to catch the frog and slips in the scrambled eggs.
  • The neighbour’s son Dylan falls over the balcony and hangs from the chandelier. Tom jumps on to save him but the chandelier crashes to the floor taking both of them down.
  • The children dislike Nora’s boyfriend Hank and so trip him up making him land in the wading pool.
  • The children soak Hank’s underwear in a bucket of mince then set their dog loose on him. The dog goes straight for Hank’s groin pulling him off his chair, then attacks him from the backside.
  • Hank runs outside and the neighbourhood dogs all come after him chasing him into his car.
  • One of the children vomits onto the kitchen floor and his brother slips over in it.
  • The brother knocks another child into a ladder, knocking off the tradesman who crashes to the floor.
  • The young twins throw cakes and spray water at the guests at Dylan’s birthday party.
  • The bouncy castle blows up propelling Tom into the air. He lands on Dylan leaving him with a black eye and a broken arm.
  • Tom gets a dart thrown at his foot.
  • The door is split open with an axe.
  • The children are all fighting when the TV crew come to film them.
  • Nora hits her self-obsessed boyfriend Hank.
  • There are also a couple of other scenes which are not comic such as:
  • The twins fighting each other
  • The twins throwing blocks at their teacher.
  • There is a lot of verbal harassment at the new schools the children all have to attend. Mark in particular, gets his glasses taken off and thrown to the ground.
  • Mark’s siblings gang up against his attackers.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

There is not a lot of scary material in this movie except for the following:

  • The dog attacking Hank seems quite vicious.
  • Mark runs away from home and all the family have to go and look for him.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by the above mentioned scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Some children in this age group might still be scared by the dog attack.

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

There is nothing that would scare children in this age group.

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

There are quite a few sexual references in this movie:

  • Nora and Hank are told that they can’t sleep together at home so Nora moves in with Hank.
  • Tom says that “twelve kids later they (Tom and Kate) have still got the heat”
  • Tom tells the neighbours that they had twelve kids because “he couldn’t keep her off him”.
  • Tom needs Nora’s help but she won’t come unless Hank’s allowed to sleep in her room.
  • Hank asks Tom and Kate if they will be “popping out another one soon”.
  • Nora eventually goes home to help and sneaks Hank into her bedroom. In the morning they confront Tom who is angry about the situation.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is no nudity but Hank and Nora kiss seductively in front of Nora’s parents.

Use of substances

There is drinking of alcohol at a wedding.

Coarse language

There is a little coarse language, mainly name calling such as:

  • fat arse
  • butch
  • dead arse.

In a nutshell

The take home message is that two parents having careers and raising a large family doesn’t work.

Values parents may wish to encourage include:

  • a strong family bond
  • loyalty
  • care and concern.

Values parents may wish to discourage include:

  • sibling rivalry
  • having fun at another’s expense
  • violence as a way to solve conflicts
  • name calling
  • intolerance
  • disobedience
  • deceitfulness
  • harassment.