Cheaper by the Dozen
—About this Film
“Cute” was my first reaction to this movie. In fact, cute was about all I could come up with at first. But there was something else in this movie that struck an uncomfortable nerve. Underneath all of the comedy, antics, and “cute” lines, this movie addressed something that I and millions of women struggle with: bartering our unfulfilled dreams for a commitment to family.
Somewhere along my overachiever quest for independence and accomplishment, I decided to get married and have kids. For me, an identity crisis occurred when I discovered that I couldn’t do it all. I had to choose where my future commitments would lie. I had to choose how (more importantly, with whom) I would identify my life. Three themes in this film, loyalty, sacrifice, and the value of a support system, explore the nature of committing to family. They also correspond with the nature of identifying with Christ.
Loyalty – When Tom and Mary Baker (the parents in the story) decide to pursue their career dreams, things unravel at home. But, their basic loyalty is to the family. The daughter, Nora, has a different perspective. She moves out of her house and in with her boyfriend, Hank. After her siblings torture Hank on several occasions, she screams, “I have my life now! My life, not ours. My loyalty is to him now.” Each member of a family (whether physical or spiritual) must decide with whom they will cast their lots. When trials come, is it with our family members? When the world comes against us, is it with Christ?
Sacrifice – “With each child, we got further from our career dreams.” The struggle between unfulfilled dreams and commitment to family makes sacrifice a central theme of this film. At first, Tom and Mary see their career advancements as a way to benefit their family. But soon the promise that the move will make them a happier, stronger family dissolves. This movie brings to light just how much parents give up for their kids. But, it also sheds frightening light on the effects of careers on children. It begs the question of just who should sacrifice in a family, and how much. If we were to follow Christ’s example, the sacrifice would be complete and total. It would mean putting others first at our own expense. It’s a funny dynamic because God seems to use our sacrifices to open up new avenues for us to accomplish great things.
Support System – There’s nothing like a visual image to stay with you. I will never forget one scene in this movie: thirteen people pouring out of the house with flashlights and search paraphernalia to find their lost little brother, Mark. It immediately made me think of how a family is like a sports team. They are all on the same side, not competing with each other, but supporting one another. Having not grown up in a large family, the network of Christians at my local church is as close to I’ll come to understanding this phenomenon. In this movie, the family had assembly lines for making lunches and cooking breakfast, and everyone ate together. The family worked as a unit, although its members had distinct personalities, talents and interests. Sound like Christ’s model of a healthy church?Family is one of God’s favorite ways to illustrate the relationships we share with Him and others. There is God the Father and Christ the Son. We have been called the Bride, and Christ the Bridegroom. We are also called children of God, making us brothers and sisters to each other in Christ. These illustrations abound in the Bible. Why? Because God chooses to identify Himself with us! Christ cast his lot with us when he sacrificed unto death. The relationship and commitment between God and man really is the same as a family. It requires loyalty and sacrifice from all parties, and provides a support system that is beyond our comprehension.
—About this Film