Hippo Manchester
December 1, 2005

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Film: Yours, Mine and Ours (PG)
by Amy Diaz

Dennis Quaid and Rene Russo ensure that they’ll never be cast as sex symbols again with their roles as parents of 18 children in Yours, Mine and Ours, a remake of a 1960s movie of the same name.

How does one couple end up with 18 children? I’m guessing booze and some serious forgetfulness are usually involved. Or being a member of one of your more fundamentalist religions during the 1800s. But in the case of Frank (Quaid) and Helen (Russo) it happens due to death, remarriage and a seriously lax approach to family planning.

Frank is a by-the-books Coast Guard admiral (his kids even refer to him as “Admiral” as opposed to, say, “Dad”) who was married, had eight children and then widowed. Helen is a more free-thinking purse designer who had four of her own children and then adopted six children of varying ethnicities before her husband bought the farm. (Not literally bought the farm, though that would have been helpful, what with all the children.)

Frank and Helen, of course, know nothing about each other’s achievements in the parent realm and remember only their high school romance. So, when they meet, they are delighted to see each other and do plenty of dancing and flirting before dropping the bomb that is the admission that you have a baseball-team-sized family.

Naturally, with that big thing in common all other issues seem trivial and Frank and Helen get married and buy a lighthouse where their collective can live. He brings the order; she brings the decorating sense. Except that their children don’t like the arrangement at all. After trying to ace each other out of bathroom time and get the other family in trouble, all 18 kids come together to work on a common goal: splitting up the parents.

From there, the scheming of children aged 4 to 17 quickly marches to friendship forged in battle to familial affection and to a reversal of situation, with the parents wanting to split and the kids wanting to stay together. The film is as orderly as a military operation performed by anal-retentive grunts and led by a punctuality-obsessed sergeant. The plot, like the German army through Europe, rolls over any potential for spontaneity, over character development, over humor and over the novelty (a family big enough to run two four-on-four games and have referees) that makes the story interesting to begin with. Ironed flat, the movie just feels like a really long ad for detergent, with occasional examples of why you might need extra cleaning power.