Little kids are like puppies. They make a lot of mistakes before learning how to behave properly, and they know that being in a group is a lot more fun than facing the scary world alone. That’s why little kids like movies about little kids acting like puppies.
Adults who grew up in large families also like those movies because they remind us of the good old days when we were happy little litter mates. Thus, you can understand when I say, Yours, Mine and Ours is hopelessly predictable, completely unrealistic and relentlessly ridiculous — and I loved it. If you’re not a kid, or if you’re one of those pitiable creatures that we five Miller kids felt sorry for because you were a mere “only child,” then you’ll agree with most other film critics and avoid this movie like a bad case of the measles.
Dennis Quaid (Flight of the Phoenix), my favorite over-50 movie hunk, plays Frank Beardsley, the new commandant at the Coast Guard academy in Connecticut — and a widower with eight kids. A career officer, Beardsley keeps his household as tight as his ship, which means daily life is defined by flow charts, checklists, whistle-blowing and barked orders. Rene Russo (Two for the Money) is Helen North, a gorgeous Earth-mother widow with 10 kids. She’s a talented handbag designer, one of those unfettered spirits who thrive on benign chaos, believing that a house is for “free expression, not first impressions.” My kinda gal.
The admiral and the accessory artist meet at their 30th high-school reunion, reignite the spark from their prom days, run off and get married. When the enormous new family moves into an old lighthouse together, it’s understandable that at first the Beardsley nerds hate the North brats and vice versa. Rivalry, resentment, sarcasm and general animosity ensue, particularly between the oldest girls from each family, blonde cheerleader Christina Beardsley (Katija Pevec, Sleepover) and brunette outlaw Phoebe North (Danielle Panabaker, Sky High).
The kids decide that the only way to get their old broods back is to sabotage their parents’ romance. Clever subterfuge, devious rule-breaking, wild partying, numerous pratfalls and general bedlam ensue. (When I saw the film, the kids in the audience howled with glee as they recognized their secret selves on screen.)
With divorce in the offing, though, the kids finally realize that their shenanigans have made their parents unhappy, and so the reds and the blues decide to coexist (as the parents in the audience heaved a huge sigh of relief).
Rated PG for some mild crude humor.
– reviewed by Marcianne Miller