Fast-Paised review: ‘Cheaper by the Dozen 2'

Big question: We get it: it's hard to handle a family the size of a daycare center. ("Cheaper by the Dozen," "Yours, Mine and Ours," etc.) Is "Cheaper by the Dozen 2" a fun family comedy or proof that movie studios need birth control to cut down on unwanted sequels?

Skip it: Steve Martin coasts on his usual tricks as an old-fashioned dad who can't deal with his kids growing up. Yet for such a manic, controlling and competitive father, his litter (including Hilary Duff, Piper Perabo and Tom Welling) is incredibly well behaved, making "Cheaper by the Dozen 2" little more than an hour and a half of slapstick parental buffoonery. Not to mention the fact that crotch gags get more screen time than half the kids.

Catch it if: You're amused by a cheaper-by-the-numbers script that ends every other scene with someone falling into a lake. It's dock-breakingly hilarious!

Bottom line: If kids are inexpressive and willing to forgive parental intrusion, this go-nowhere sequel seems to suggest that having a dozen of them isn't much harder than having one. Formulaic and forced, "Cheaper by the Dozen 2" is essentially "Father of the Bride"…and the mechanic, the teenager, and some other youngsters dad's still getting to know.

Bonus: We never thought we'd see Eugene Levy, Hollywood's resident geeky dad, pull off an onscreen marriage to Carmen Electra. But with his hair fluffed, skin bronzed and teeth whitened, the perennial dweeb is actually, um, sort of a stud!

mpais@tribune.com

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`Cheaper by the Dozen 2'

Directed by Adam Shankman; screenplay by Sam Harper; cinematography by Peter James; production designed by Cary White; music by John Debney; edited by Matthew Cassel and Christopher Greenbury; produced by Shawn Levy and Ben Myron. A 20th Century Fox release; opens Wednesday. Running time: 1:34. MPAA rating: PG (for some crude humor and mild language).

Tom Baker - Steve Martin

Kate Baker - Bonnie Hunt

Charlie Baker - Tom Welling

Nora Baker - Piper Perabo

Lorraine Baker - Hilary Duff

Jimmy Murtaugh - Eugene Levy

Sarina Murtaugh - Carmen Electra

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