Yours, Mine & Ours

The new remake of Yours, Mine & Ours suggests that Hollywood filmmakers seem convinced that the simple plot ploy of "too many kids to deal with" will result in entertaining comedic fare, but this new film starring Dennis Quaid and Rene Russo is too predictable and simple minded.

Why it took the combined efforts of Paramount, MGM, Nickelodeon, and Columbia to bring this version of Yours, Mine & Ours to the screen is beyond me, but perhaps it's because this is a remake of a movie starring Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda and the rights were complicated. Whatever the reason, at least there's plenty of blame to go around. The original film, made in the 1960s, was a mildly amusing comedy based on fact about a widower with nine children who marries a widow with eight kids and they settle into a big old house in San Francisco.

The current version adds another child to the mix, and stars Dennis Quaid as Frank, a widowed admiral in the Coast Guard who is raising his eight kids with military precision. Rene Russo is Helen, a free-spirited widow and purse designer, with four kids of her own and six adopted multiethnic kids. These former high-school sweethearts re-meet when "the Admiral," as his kids refer to him, returns to New London, Conn., to run the Coast Guard Academy. They fall in love (again) at their high-school reunion (with no hint of why they broke up in the first place), then get married and tell their kids about it. Then everyone piles into a big, old fixer-upper lighthouse. The problem is Helen and Frank may be in love, but their kids don't like each other, which is as worked up as anybody gets in this contrived comedy.

Sure, there are tears and yelling and screaming (with 18 kids why wouldn't there be?) because the Admiral is a martinet and Helen is a free spirit, but this is one of those Hollywood movies where real life never intrudes. Money is never an issue, as Frank and Helen can each afford to feed, clothe and house their broods in sprawling, well-equipped houses, and their kids are so numerous and cute that none of them have distinct personalities, or any major problems apart from how to get along with their siblings, or other equally cute, but annoying, schoolmates.

Like the movie Cheaper By the Dozen, which came out a couple years ago with Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt as parents "blessed" with a dozen children, Hollywood filmmakers seem overwhelmed by having too many kids to deal with, and end up defaulting to - lots of children means: food fights, paint wars, pandemonium and that spells "Komedy!" The result is a "safe" family film that may amuse young children, but has less humor and insight than an episode of "Family Affair" or "My Three Sons," albeit with three times as many children!

The film is rated PG for some mild crude humor.

- Philip Murphy