Yours, Mine, and Ours is not great. In fact, after watching a handful of clips from the original 1968 film starring Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda, it’s clear that that movie is superior to this slapdash effort featuring Rene Russo and Randy Quaid. The story is about a blended family with a boatload of kids as well as a few dogs and cats and a pig. No one gets along, and someone is always screaming or throwing something or generally making a mess. Still, I chose to keep watching while eating Saturday leftovers when given the chance to change the channel, so I guess this means I liked it?
If there’s one thing that kept me watching, it was Russo and Quaid. They lack chemistry surprisingly but make an attractive double act nonetheless. Both are magnetic and can turn me on with a smile, which is helpful since the script doesn’t leave much in the way of character development or romance. Helen North (Russo) is the kind of hippie mom who encourages creativity and group hugs amongst her ten children, some of whom are adopted. Her new husband and high school boyfriend, Frank Beardsley (Quaid), is the opposite, a pre-Maria Captain Von Trapp if you will. The Coast Guard admiral orders his eight kids to stand at attention and draws up bathroom charts for orderly use of the facilities.
Despite being the actual adults in the room, they have little control over their kids and are mere observers to the chaos their bickering offspring create. They occasionally yell for the madness to stop, but the movie depends on anarchy. Without extended sequences of sibling sabotage and that scene where they turn their gorgeous lighthouse home with the 200-year-old banister into a Jackson Pollack work, the movie has little to go on.
The novelty of an eighteen-child household gets old after awhile, and the writers don’t have a plan for what to do when things slow down. Helen has an interesting job as a designer, but that barely comes into play. We catch just one small glimpse of how it affects her relationship with Frank before it’s tucked away. Frank gets the better end of the deal, and his reluctance to take on a promotion with the Coast Guard makes a bigger impact. It’s done in such a hurried way though that it feels like they’ve only skimmed the surface.
The momentum in this narrative lies with the kids, whether they’re fighting each other or, after changing tactics, they decide to fight together. Determined to break up the family one way or another, they agree that their quickest route is through divorce. By joining forces though, they’re guaranteed to form a real alliance, and the promise of a happy ending is another reason why I enjoyed this movie. Look, I like it when kids who don’t like each other end up liking each other. It’s predictable but it makes me smile, and dammit, that’s what I want in my lazy weekend entertainment.
Prod: Robert Simonds, Michael G. Nathanson
Dir: Raja Gosnell
Writer: Bob Hilgenberg, Rob Muir, Ron Burch, David Kidd
Cast: Dennis Quaid, Rene Russo, Sean Faris, Rip Torn, Linda Hunt, Danielle Panabaker, Drake Bell, Lil’ JJ, Miranda Cosgrove, Katija Pevec
Time: 88 min
Country: United States