Politics & Policy

For Family Night Out

Yours, Mine, and Ours.

My nine-year-old son absolutely loves Slimetime Live on Nickelodeon. He howls whenever someone has a huge vat of unidentifiable green goo dumped on his head. The producers of the new movie Yours, Mine, and Ours (which include Nickelodeon) understand my son. They comprehend the kind of mad-capped antics that keep kids in stitches–comedy that splashes, splats, and drips. This film has all those elements and a few more.

As in all romantic comedies, the two protagonists bring a certain amount of baggage to the relationship. In the case of reunited high-school sweethearts Frank Beardsley (Dennis Quaid) and Helen North (Rene Russo), they are bringing truckloads–quite literally. Both widowed from their spouses, Frank has eight kids and Helen has ten. Yep, it’s the Brady Bunch on fertility drugs.

Adding to the already crowded home when they try to merge their two legions is the difficulty of polarized parenting styles. Frank is a Coast Guard Admiral who runs his family–like his ship–with order, discipline, and punctuality. Helen, on the other hand, is a lovable bohemian designer who carries around a talking stick in order to let each of her children express themselves and be heard.

“We don’t necessarily see eye to eye in the way we raise kids–and that turns into a huge problem,” says Russo. “My kids are kind of wild and messy and the Beardsley kids are neat and orderly. When they come together, it’s not a good mix.”

While husband and wife sizzle, the children respond with all the warmth of, say, North Korea. Ultimately, the kids hatch a plan to sabotage the marriage so that life can go back to the way it was before. Along the way, the entire brood learns an important lesson in family life.

Some readers may recall seeing the 1968 version of this movie starring Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda. The classic version of Yours, Mine, and Ours serves more as an inspiration than a blueprint for the contemporary version. “I don’t know if it’s right to call it a remake,” observes Linda Hunt, who plays the Beardsley nanny Mrs. Munion. “We’ve taken the bare essentials of it and… we’ve built it from there.”

The sheer logistics of a production like this seems like the running of the bulls in Pamplona. According to Quaid, the set was chaotic. “Eighteen kids and eighteen stand-ins for the eighteen kids,” he recalls. “We had a pig and a back-up pig. Dogs and back-up dogs and their handlers.”

Ah, the pig. Quaid had a memorable scene with the gargantuan porker named Fiona. “Kissing the pig was a really unique experience,” Quaid confessed. He was asked how many takes it took until the scene was perfect: “Between all the angles and takes, adding it all up, I would say about 35 times. Listen, after about the twelfth time, it’s not that bad.”

“Some people may see this movie and say, ‘I am definitely going to use birth control,’” Quaid said jokingly. “It might be a warning. I only have one, but I kind of like the commotion of lots of kids. I also had my nice, cushy trailer to disappear to.”

Quaid may have retreated to his trailer for a little peace and quiet, but he is a good sport when it comes to zany antics like kissing a pig or getting goo splashed in his face. “As I grew up, my dad turned us on to

Laurel and Hardy, the

Three Stooges, and Abbott and Costello,” he said. “Physical comedy–slapstick is what it really is–is a lot of fun to do, even though it is painful.”

Hollywood does not make movies like Yours, Mine, and Ours for the critics. In all honesty, it really is a movie that is going to be much more appreciated by kids than by the parents who get dragged along to the theaters. But that doesn’t bother director Raja Gosnell, the exceedingly personable director of movies such as Big Momma’s House, Scooby Doo, and

Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed. “Critics have never really liked my movies and I don’t expect that they’ll suddenly embrace this one,” he candidly admits, “although they might because Dennis and Renee are really terrific and I think there are elements that they will embrace.”

Still, he doesn’t seem to worry about scoring with the critics. “My favorite thing is to sit in the theaters and watch families–from little kids to moms and dads to grandma–laughing and having a good time and enjoying a family night out. If I can provide that, that is rewarding to me.”

Steve Beard is the creator of Thunderstruck.org–a website devoted to faith and pop culture.

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