- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The funniest interlude in “Yours, Mine & Ours” comes right off the bat: a parade of logos that identify Paramount, MGM, Nickelodeon and Columbia as co-sponsors of this farcical groaner for the holiday family market. It seems an excess of corporate ganging-up for one measly and mostly excruciating remake.

The prototype managed to be successful under the auspices of United Artists alone when released in 1968. Probably the most popular domestic comedy of the year, it matched Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda as middle-aged, widowed newlyweds whose 18 children need to get used to a single, supersize household.

The subjects of the movie were a humorously celebrated family in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Beardsleys. The former Helen North, a nurse at the Alameda Naval Air Station, had eight children from her first marriage. Frank Beardsley, a naval officer, had 10 of his own.

Far from a classic, the first “Yours, Mine” took an affectionately low-pressure and conventional approach to bursting-at-the-seams domesticity. It endeared itself by protecting the dignity of its co-stars, who were easier to envision as grandparents by then, and making a decent case for adoptive family solidarity. Mr. Fonda got a particularly astute speech about paternal obligations as Frank was rushing Helen to the hospital for the birth of their own child, who topped off the brood at 19.

This kicker didn’t appeal to the updaters, who promote Dennis Quaid’s Frank to admiral and new commandant of the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., while gaily bohemianizing Rene Russo’s Helen into a designer of busily bespangled handbags. Their union is meant to reconcile a spit-and-polish military family with a hang-loose, artsy-craftsy batch of budding illustrators, musicians, videographers and interior decorators. The filmmakers also proudly kowtow to “diversity” cliches by identifying six of Helen’s children (now 10 rather than eight) as multiethnic adoptees.

The working model for the second “Yours, Mine” is not so much the original as an excruciating remake of last year, “Cheaper by the Dozen.” It would be hard to envision a more ramshackle model because “Cheaper” transformed a famously accomplished large American family of the early 1900s into merciless sitcom monstrosities of the present, fit only for ridicule, gross-out slapstick and gratuitous imbecility. These updates defy likability in any normal sense, but they’re overpowering as exercises in rampant, copycat vulgarity.

Frank’s elevated rank here appears to be little more than a spur to slapstick abuse: Mr. Quaid is far too busy simulating pratfalls and getting slimed at home to make much of an impression at the academy.

You ask if there’s an obligatory puking scene? When isn’t there one in a contemporary film comedy? Perhaps it’s a brilliant stroke of irony that movies as slovenly as “Yours, Mine & Ours” seem calculated to provoke a gag reflex.


TITLE: “Yours, Mine & Ours”

RATING: PG (Recurrent slapstick vulgarity)

CREDITS: Directed by Raja Gosnell. Screenplay by Ron Burch and David Kidd, based on the screenplay of the 1968 movie, written by Melville Shavelson and Mort Lachman. Cinematography by Theo Van de Sande. Music by Christophe Beck.

RUNNING TIME: 88 minutes

WEB SITE: www.yoursmineandoursmovie.com


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