Release Date:  November 23, 2005
Rating:  PG (some mild crude humor)
Genre:  Comedy/Romance/Family
Run Time:  82 min.
Director:  Raja Gosnell
Actors:  Dennis Quaid, Rene Russo, Sean Faris, Katija Pevec, Dean Collins, Tyler Patrick Jones, Haley Ramm, Brecken Palmer, Ty Panitz, and Danielle Panabaker.

In a remake of the 1968 Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda movie, the comedy is certainly not sidesplitting, but "Yours, Mine & Ours" does paint an accurate, thought-provoking picture of the inevitable chaos that precedes all true transformation.

When Coast Guard officer Frank Beardsley (Dennis Quaid) bumps into his old high school flame Helen North (Rene Russo) on their class reunion cruise ship, the two make a hasty decision to get married. Things get really complicated, however, when they try to meld their two families – totaling 18 kids! The problem, besides the sheer numbers of bodies underfoot, is that Frank likes to run a tight ship, instituting chore charts and full, unquestioned military order in the family. Helen approaches living in a free-spirited, hippie style, which includes the use of a “talking stick” for better communication. Despite the fact that the kids don't want unity – and are actually plotting their parents' breakup, Frank and Helen jump through almost insurmountable hoops to try and turn the jumbled chaos into a home.

Very reminiscent of "Cheaper by the Dozen," the disorder is largely portrayed in a slapstick comedy style, typical of director Raja Gosnell who also directed “Scooby-Do.” The movie is fraught with shticks including people slipping on slime, falling into vomit, trashing rooms after a sugar high, tripping over a burping pig, kids getting into a paint fight, and siblings pulling childish pranks on the parents and each other. There are a few belly laughs to be had, thanks to a number of corny lines such as when one of the kids says of his sister’s saxophone playing, “Oh, my God, who’s killing a goat?” Or when another asks, “Have the fashion police found you?” When one kid slips into another’s vomit, someone asks, “Is this standard nautical procedure?” The movie also underutilizes its great actors, including the nanny, Mrs. Munion (Linda Hunt), who is normally hilarious.  Unfortunately, her role is reduced to lame lines:  “This house smells like paprika with a hint of wet dog.” Not quite all the way funny.

Thankfully, there is good chemistry between Dennis Quaid and Rene Russo, but the romantic tension between them is lessened by their hasty marriage, their subsequent inability to find time to be together and the constant stress over how to raise their 18 kids. Incidentally, for those of us who are, shall we say, not entirely opposed to corporal punishment (our kids got swatted with Mr. Sad Stick – a frowning paint stick from Home Depot), there are plenty of reprimands for us, like “Spanking is never the answer.” During certain parts of the movie, though, audiences will likely be wishing that the Beardsley parents would trade their Talking Stick for a Sad Stick to use on some of their not-so-adorable hellions.

“Yours, Mine, and Ours” is redeemed in part, in that amidst the crazy farcical antics, the filmmakers do portray a very accurate portrait of the process we all go through during true transformation. It seems that with every great endeavor, there is an irritating phase of disorder and chaos before the vision of restoration and unity is realized.  In this story, clearly Frank and Helen need each other. They are completely unbalanced; one is “all rules,” and the other is “all love.” It’s only together that they, and their children, might – through lots of hard work and patience – find that perfect balance of “loving and firm.”

Audiences will just have to decide whether they care enough about the goal of family unity for this motley bunch, and whether it is worth the slapstick headaches to get there.  If so, then the movie should provide some good food for thought and great marital discussion on parenting styles.  Perhaps only time will tell which "sticks" work best in real life. 

AUDIENCE:  Children and adults

CAUTIONS: 

Language/Profanity:  A few references of “Oh, my God.”
Drugs/Alcohol:  Nanny/babysitter drinks martinis.
Sex/Nudity:  None.
Violence:  Slapstick, including numerous pranks involving ooze, paint, forklift disasters, vomit, burps, pig chaos, boat mishaps, etc.
World Views:  Movie rebukes spanking, but otherwise extols honor, commitment, perseverance, and other Judeo-Christian values.