If you’re determined to adore each heavy-handed gag, relish the story line’s utter simplicity and bathe in the glow of its calculated warmth, you may tolerate it. Maybe even more than just tolerate it.
But if you have even the smallest hint of cynicism, beware. The movie is a loose remake of the 1968 surprise hit that teamed Lucille Ball with Henry Fonda. That film actually benefited from good dialogue, most memorably Fonda’s definition of love. The new version stars Rene Russo and Dennis Quaid and shows how low our comic standards have fallen. Why strive for good dialogue if a food fight will get faster reflex laughs?
Russo, always an asset, plays Helen, a merry widow who believes in progressive, positive reinforcement when it comes to her 10 kids. (Four are biological; six are adopted because they were "irresistible.") She also has a menagerie of pets, all accustomed to instant gratification. Quaid plays Frank, a widower Coast Guard admiral, whose eight children accept his military regimen with weary good nature.
Once upon a time, Helen and Frank had been high school sweethearts. Sparks fly again when they meet 30 years and 18 kids later, and they quickly marry. Their offspring hate each other instantly and hatch nefarious schemes to drive their parents to divorce. The two newlyweds also discover that they have different views on children and almost everything else.
The screenplay tries to make Helen and Frank seem extra likable by making all other characters extra obnoxious. These include Linda Hunt as a weird housekeeper who loves to watch wrestling on television, Rip Torn as a stuffy commandant and Jerry O’Connell as Helen’s sad-sack early suitor. It’s an obvious ploy. Quaid and especially Russo are likable enough on their own.
The same can’t be said for the movie. Still, filmgoers may respond to its positive message, no matter how heavy-handed the delivery.
—Philip Wuntch (KRT)
© 2005, The Dallas Morning News.
Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.
Yours, Mine and Ours is currently in theatres.