Today, Disney+ is launching their new version of the family comedy Cheaper by the Dozen on the streaming service, and we got to hear from the talented cast and crew including actors Gabrielle Union (“Zoey Baker”), Zach Braff (“Paul Baker”), Erika Christensen (“Kate”), Timon Kyle Durrett (“Dom”) and director Gail Lerner. Check out what they had to say below!
A remake of both the original 1950 film as well as the 2003 romp starring Steve Martin, the new story follows the raucous exploits of a blended family of 12, the Bakers, as they navigate a hectic home life while simultaneously managing their family business.
The cast first spoke to why the story has lived on for all these years, now in its third iteration “Everyone is born into some sort of family,” Union explained. “Whether you love them or you try to escape from them, you’re born into a family. So, literally, everyone in the world can relate to family drama, family fun, family problem-solving.
“More and more, you see these blended families having to co-parent, multi-generational families all living under one roof. This is the norm, you know? When folks started using the word ‘traditional’ families, I think that’s just meant to shame folks for surviving, basically.”
Union added: “This is a movie that calls all families in and says, ‘You know what? You will find someone that you can relate to, that looks like you. That feels like your family somewhere in this movie.’”
Braff said, “I also just wanna say that I’m not a parent, but I know so many parents that can relate to the balance of work and being a parent. In ‘Cheaper by the Dozen’ one of the reasons why people relate to it is it takes it to the extreme. Obviously, it’s a heightened reality, or it actually did occur for this family man who wrote the book. So imagine having ten, you know? Every parent that is going, ‘How do I balance following my dream and being a good parent? To do both at the same time?’ The film, with humor, says, ‘Well, imagine you had ten?’”
“As a parent of-of two children, I just love the fact that it’s originally based on a true story,” Christensen said. “This is extreme, as far as you can take it in my mind. Having ten kids and seeing that actually work is insane. It makes me feel like, ‘Eh, two kids is fine. I should really have nothing to complain about.’”
“I have five brothers, two sisters,” adds Durrett. “I can relate to the chaos when I was younger and my older siblings were like the parents when mom and dad were at work. All the rippin’ and runnin’ around and everything. Working on the film was nostalgic for me. I remember doing that. I remember that kind of stuff. So it was really fun for me, I could really relate. This film touched me in a way that’s very personal because in some ways I look back on the chaos and that was the fun stuff. I see a lot of that in the film.”
Director Gail Lerner, known for her episodic TV work like Grace and Frankie and black-ish, concurred with her cast, adding that Cheaper by the Dozen has a positive quality that anyone of any age can relate to.
Said Lerner, “For me, just from a kid point of view, the idea of having my friends, my playmates, just a house full of people who have your back, who love you, who support you… I think, especially for kids right now, the world can be a hard place and that home is your soft landing. It just makes this movie such a fun place to live.”
The world got especially hard for children during the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic. Braff spoke to why the film can help people cope, and how the cast and crew had to deal with it as well.
“I think during COVID especially it was very tricky,” stated Braff. “Everyone can relate no matter what your job is. If you had to go to your job during COVID, this was that with 10 children. I know the kids that go to school have to deal with masks and everything, but we had so much testing.
The actor added: “The crew had to wear, in addition to a mask, a clear faceguard. Poor Gab has this beautiful makeup on someone spent a while making her look — don’t get me wrong, she would look beautiful without makeup — but someone has spent hours putting her beautiful makeup on, and then she’s supposed to put a mask on? It was tricky to do a movie with ten kids during COVID. I think people kind of bond through that because you were also so grateful to be working.”
“For all of us who’ve been trapped in our houses… and I don’t wanna say ‘trapped,’ but we were trapped,” laughed Union. “Just seeing other people in real life… Like, any person. I’d be the person at Ralph’s staring into somebody’s eyeballs ’cause that’s all you get. Like, ‘connect with me. You like gluten-free, too?’
“By the time, you actually got to set, you feel free in a sense, and you just want to connect because after everything that’s happened in the world and we’ve all kind of been in these tiny bubbles, I needed a new audience for my jokes. Our whole movie, all of us were very excited to be able to see someone face-to-face, to see your whole face.”
Now streaming on Disney+, Cheaper by the Dozen is directed by Gail Lerner with a screenplay by Kenya Barris & Jenifer Rice-Genzuk Henry based upon the novel (check price at Amazon) by Frank Bunker Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey.
The movie stars Gabrielle Union, Zach Braff, Erika Christensen, Timon Kyle Durrett, Journee Brown, Kylie Rogers, Andre Robinson, and Caylee Blosenski. Also starring are Aryan Simhadri, Leo Abelo Perry, Mykal-Michelle Harris, Christian Cote, Sebastian Cote and Luke Prael.
Max Evry has been a film journalist since 2005, serving at various times as a writer, interviewer, graphic designer, podcaster, video creator, features editor, and managing editor. Past media outlets have included MTV, /Film, IGN, and Fangoria. For home video companies Arrow, Kino Lorber, Indicator, and Via Vision he has provided Blu-ray audio commentaries as well as featurettes for classic and contemporary films including “Flatliners,” “Blackhat,” and Best Picture Oscar winner “Marty.” In 2023 he released his first book “A Masterpiece in Disarray: David Lynch’s Dune – An Oral History” to considerable acclaim.