Yesterday was our middle child's 18th birthday. As part of the festivities there was a trip to the local cinema. The birthday girl gets to choose the movie, you know, so "Pride and Prejudice" (my choice) wasn't chosen. Mom vetoed Brokeback Mountain. The compromise choice was "Yours, Mine and Ours".
Just before going out the door I checked a couple of on-line reviews. Yikes! Other reviewers were trashing this film. On top of that I'm not a big fan of the "madcap comedy featuring a housefull of characters." I gritted my teeth and vowed to not complain or cast any shadow over the sweet 18 celebration.
Okay - this is not Casablanca. But I liked it. This movie overcame my negative expectations and won me over despite it's numerous flaws. Why? The characters, though drawn with broad strokes, are nonetheless likable, and I found myself rooting for them going into the final act.
Dennis Quaid and Rene Russo are as attractive as actors my age get, and their characters are both essentially good. That was a good place to start.
Quaid is a 2-Star Coast Guard Admiral just assigned to take over leadership at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut. A widower of several years, he presides over his brood of 8 kids along with housekeeper Linda Hunt. Russo portrays his high school sweetheart, still living there in New London. She is also widowed. After 4 children of their own, she and her previous spouse adopted 6 more. There is a real international feeling in that house. She works at home in a messily creative studio as a designer who sells things at places like Saks Fifth Avenue.
The admiral's kids are all quite regimented. They keep a tidy ship, adhere rigidly to written schedules and call their father "Admiral", which I thought sort of odd despite 22 years in the Navy myself. My children call me "Dad". But I digress. Russo is raising her children to be free-thinking spirits.
There would be no movie if the designer and the admiral didn't get together. The "conflict" that must be resolved is between the military brats and the flower children.
There is much to scoff at. There are several frenzied scenes of physical comedy - all ending with Quaid covered with wet stuff. With 20 family members there is scarcely a moment for any degree of character development. Rip Torn is absolutely fantastic in the right role - here he is badly miscast as the Commandant of the Coast Guard. At one point he is so pleased at the promotion of his subordinate Quaid that he lifts him off the ground in a big bear hug in one of those big Washington, D.C. rotundas. All the Admirals I know in real life are slightly more reserved in large public places. A portion of the family conflict comes when Quaid's 2-star Admiral is nominated to become the replacement for 4-Star Torn. This is about as realistic as the person who just got the job supervising orientation of new employees to the Ford Motor Company suddenly being named CEO. I know this sort of plot device happens in film all the time, but even a kindergarden understanding of arithmetic would allow you to know that a 2-Star Admiral doesn't replace a 4-Star without that intermediate 3-Star step.
Still - I liked it. I liked the couple. I liked the kids. I wanted things to work out for them.
I wouldn't cancel a trip to "Pride and Prejudice" or "King Kong" to see this, but if your kids or significant other drags you to it, don't run screaming.
It's not everyday that you can walk up to the DVD rack in your local department store and pick up a flick that everyone in the family can enjoy, but "Yours, Mine & Ours" is one such flick. I wasn't expecting much from this film at first. I only picked it up because it's PG and looked harmless enough for everyone to watch. In other words, I skipped out on flicks like "Underworld: Evolution" and "Wolf Creek" in order to watch a film with my entire family.
I was quite surprised by this family film. Sure, I've seen funnier flicks with a PG (and even G) rating, but this film rolls along at a frantic pace with pratfalls galore and plenty of "aw, shucks" humor. It has a certain appeal to it that makes you feel as if you've gotten your money's worth. Dennis Quaid and Rene Russo are funny as the heads of two separate and very different families who become one whenever Quaid and Russo marry unannounced to their children. Oh, and I've forgotten to mention that Quaid had eight children and Russo has ten (four biologically, six adopted).
There's little room for character development. In fact, I couldn't give you but maybe two or three of the elder children's names. Quaid's bunch are regimental, what with a military father at the helm. Russo's kids are free spirited and artistic, without a care in the world. The kids hate living with each other, so they devise a plan to breakup their new parents. Of course, this leads to an obvious bonding of the families that makes for a predictable ending, but it's done with so much silliness that it manages to work.
Rip Torn and Linda Hunt have minor roles in the film, though I must say that Hunt's nanny role is hilarious at times. The rest of the cast does a solid job. Youngsters and hip parents such as myself will recognize Drake Bell and the girl who plays his little sis, Megan, on "Drake and Josh." Even hipper parents will pick out Danielle Panabaker, who's made a name for herself on the Disney Channel and in another recent wonderful family comedy, "Sky High."
Predictable, silly, and sometimes too sugary sweet, I still feel that "Yours, Mine & Ours" deserves a modest four stars. It's a wonderful film for the whole family to watch together, and I think Nickelodeon is well on its way to making even better family films.
YOURS, MINE, AND OURS, is distinguished in that the two main actors, Dennis Quaid and Rene Russo, are both genuine movie stars. This movie is a remake of YOURS, MINE, AND OURS, a 1968 film, directed by Melville Shavelson and starring Lucille Ball, Henry Fonda and Van Johnson. This 1968 film was based on the story of Frank and Helen Beardsley, as disclosed in Helen's autobiographical book Who Gets the Drumstick?
My own familarity of Mr.Quaid is from his engaging performance in PARENT TRAP, featuring Lindsey Lohan. My familarity of Ms.Russo is from THE ADVENTURES OF ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE, starring the adorable Piper Perabo (in this movie, at least, she is adorable). Both of these films are exceptionally-well crafted, at least in my opinion, and invite repeated viewings. But I am not sure that I can say the same for YOURS, MINE, AND OURS. YOURS, MINE, AND OURS, concerns a single father with around 8 children, and a single mother, also with around 8 children (or perhaps more). The father (Mr.Quaid) and mother (Ms.Russo) had been high school sweethearts, and we are shown their photograph in their high school year book.
The movie starts with Mr.Quaid leading his clan to New London, Connecticut, where he is to be in charge of a naval academy school. His rank is admiral. Mr.Quaid is an exceptional officer in the U.S.Coast Guard, and towards the end of the film, he is offered a position as Commandant (the highest rank obtainable in the U.S.Coast Guard). Mr.Quaid's children express weariness at having to move to a new city every few years, due to the fact of their father's government position. As it turns out, Mr.Quaid and Ms.Russo meet in New London, rekindle their high-school romance, and get married. The result is a "Brady Bunch" scenario, where two groups of unrelated children are forced upon each other.
This situation is both interesting and disappointing. What is interesting is that the mother, and her children, are liberal hippie-types, who prefer disorder, hippie-clothes, and graffiti (and they have a pet pig). In contrast, Mr.Quaid, as well as his children, prefer to be orderly, to have a scheduled life, and to be more mainstream. The bulk of the movie contains slapstick comedy, where the contrasting (but not necessarily incompatible) life styles of the two families lead to mild forms of chaos. YOURS, MINE & OURS seemed to contain at least ten scenes where somebody got his or her face covered with housepaint or mud. If you like THE THREE STOOGES, then you will love YOURS, MINE & OURS. The pinnacle of this slapstick chaos occurs in a large hardware store (Home Depot), where one of the children accidently commandeers a fork-lift, and drives it down the aisle, causing merchandise to tumble off the shelves.
What is disappointing, is the fact that the two sets of children conspire to cause chaos and disorder, with the goal of driving their parents apart, and causing them to divorce. While this is the overall thrust of the second half of the movie, the conspiracy element was poorly developed. It seemed to me that the chaos naturally happened on its own. Also, I find that the notion that two sets of children would conspire to drive their step-parents apart to be somewhat contrived. The contrived nature of this premise or theme, and the continual use of mild slapstick, prevents the movie from being a "keeper."
For people interested in movies showing the theme of "chaos verus order" in households filled with children, and where the parents are on the verge of splitting up, I recommend MRS.DOUBTFIRE and THE SOUND OF MUSIC. It is easy to see that YOURS, MINE & OURS trods some of the same thematic material as is found in MRS.DOUBTFIRE and THE SOUND OF MUSIC. It is also easy to see that MRS.DOUBTFIRE and THE SOUND OF MUSIC are works of art, and worthy of repeated viewings, and that the same cannot really be said of YOURS, MINE & OURS. On the other hand, I cannot get enough of Mr.Quaid's squinky smile. Mr.Quaid has acted in a number of movies featuring children, for example, the excellent PARENT TRAP with Ms.Lohan and THE ROOKIE. The squinky smile is in abundance in these two fine films. Ms.Russo is distinguished in that she looks a bit like Jacqueline Kennedy.