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Yours, Mine & Ours (2005)

You can't say you weren't warned — arriving under Paramount's "Nickelodeon Movies" imprint, running a scant 87 minutes, and a remake to boot, Yours, Mine & Ours (2005) should be greeted with expectations not much higher than a swift kick in the shins. Which isn't to say that it's entirely awful or deserving of its basement-rating on IMDb.com. At least is has the undeniable star-appeal of Dennis Quaid and Rene Russo, if very little else. Quaid stars as U.S. Navy Admiral Frank Beardsley, a no-nonsense military man who runs a tight ship at work and at home — the latter being especially important since the death of Frank's wife, leaving him as a single dad with eight children. He eagerly accepts an assignment to oversee the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, which happens to be his boyhood home. His kids, on the other hand, find themselves simply stuck with one more in a series of new towns. But what Frank doesn't realize is that his high school sweetheart, Helen North (Rene Russo), still lives in New London, where she manages a successful career as a fashion designer — and is a widow with ten children, several of them adopted foster kids. All it takes is for an unusually swank high school reunion (on a cruise ship) to set sparks-a-flyin', and in short order Frank and Helen buy a ramshackle lighthouse and tell their 18 kids that they are now a big, happy family… which they most definitely are not. Yours, Mine, & Ours has all the right ingredients during its first third to be an agreeable romantic comedy — particularly with Dennis Quaid and Rene Russo on board, who do a nice job of reminding us that meeting cute and getting a little steam on the camera need not be confined to actors under the age of 32. In fact, this early chemistry is only undermined by later events. The narrative shift from mid-life romance to twenty people in a house happens in the blink of an eye, and from there the entire script is a challenge of logistics. Have we really seen enough of these kids to know any of their names? Can we easily keep track of which kids are Beardsleys and which are Norths? Just how many subplots can we follow at once? There's a bit of jealousy between two of the stepsisters, and the younger kids get teased at school, but far too often the filmmakers settle for easy slapstick, including a runaway forklift at a shopping center and an awful lot of spilled milk, or paint, or some sort of green slime (the charming Mr. Quaid is asked to be the foil of all sticky substances here). The film manages to regain a bit of traction when the family's inevitable Balkanization leads to a truce between the children, who plan to work together to split up the newlyweds — and while the results are inevitable and the conclusion brimming with cloying sweetness, the movie's one unspoken, overriding question has yet to be answered — would anyone actually place their children in these circumstances for the sake of a rekindled romance? Quaid and Russo spend much of the story hoping to get a little time alone — it's a sentiment the audience doubtless shares. Paramount's DVD release of Yours, Mine & Ours offers a good anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) with Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby 2.0 Surround audio. Extras include a commentary track with director Raja Gosnell and four featurettes, "Yours, Mine & Ours: Inside the Lighthouse" (16 min.), "18 Kids, One Script: The Writing of Yours, Mine & Ours" (5 min.), "Casting the North Family" (7 min.), and "Casting the Beardsley Family" (5 min.). Keep-case.

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