Dennis Quaid is a widower Coast Guard Admiral with eight kids. He runs his household with (of course) military precision. His career has taken him back to his home town, where he runs into high school sweetheart Rene Russo. She is a widow (no divorces in THIS movie, thank you very much) with ten kids (four biological, the rest adopted), and her household is a joyful chaos of artistic self-actualization. Quaid and Russo fall in love and marry immediately, and then announce to their kids that …heir family has just double in size. Cue conflict as the military kids and the artsy-hippy kids collide, and then collude to try to break up the marriage.
No, this is not pilfered from The Brady Bunch. It’s a remake of a 1968 film with Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball. This material must have looked dated then. Today, it’s annoyingly precious. It’s nice to see Rene Russo back on the screen, but she deserves something much better than this. She and Quaid actually manage to make their rekindling romance halfway interesting before they have to turn the movie over to the kids and everything becomes tiresomely familiar. I suppose the Film Advisory Board and its ilk deserve a bone thrown their way now and then, but this is SO pedestrian and dispiriting.
The sound is arguably the best thing about the desk. There is no overmodulation of the dialogue – it remains perfectly clear throughout. The music mix is very solid, and the surround sound effects are very good. This isn’t an in-your-face sort of track, but there is a pleasing heft to the sound (a case in point being the fine placement and bass resonance of a helicopter as it flies past in the background).
Let’s deal with the good stuff first. The image is sharp, there is no grain or edge enhancement, and the colours are very bright, with excellent blacks. Less good is that the brightness of the colours is sometimes excessive. The sunlit scenes are suffused with glare, and the whites are so strong they can bleach out everything else. Also problematic is a certain degree of aliasing, which is rather distracting at times.
Director Raja Gosnell’s commentary is pleasant enough, but fairly run-of-the-mill. There are some seven featurettes (including a behind-the-scenes video diary shot by various child actors), but these are all promotional, and very much the sort of thing you’ve seen far too many times before. There are two deleted scenes with optional commentary by Gosnell, two theatrical trailers, and previews of other releases. The menu’s intro is animated and scored, and the main screen is scored.
Not a perfect picture transfer, but a decent one. Generally speaking, a decent enough package. But the movie is deeply bland.
Special Features List
- Director’s Commentary
- “Inside the Lighthouse” Featurette
- “18 Kids — One Script” Featurette
- “Casting the North Family” Featurette
- “Casting the Beardsley Family” Featurette
- “Your Big Break” Featurette
- “Setting Sail with the Coast Guard” Featurette
- Behind-the-Scenes Video Diatry
- Deleted Scenes with Optional Commenetary
- Theatrical Trailers