This fresh, modern take on CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN undertakes themes of inclusivity, diversity, and racism while keeping family at its heart. It's sure to be an instant family-friendly classic. Read our full CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN review. During the recent press junket, we had a chance to chat with film's the cast and filmmakers. Keep reading for our full CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN interview.
CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN Interview
During the press junket, we had the chance to chat with Gabrielle Union (“Zoey Baker”), Zach Braff (“Paul Baker”), Erika Christensen (“Kate”), Timon Kyle Durrett (“Dom”), and Gail Lerner (Director) about the movie.
On improv from a cast of great comedians
GAIL: Kenya Barris and Jeni Genzuk Henry wrote a hilarious script. It was just full of monster jokes and character jokes and really relatable things. And I'd be like, “Oh, great, we're in great shape.” And then, all of these guys would just come in improvising, whether it was physicality or jokes. And everyone was really committed to making each other look good.
There are some casts where people are showboating. And it's like, “Excuse me, let me do my moment.” And you guys were all so committed to making each other look good, which just makes everybody shine. So, that was really incredible.
ZACH: We had fun. There were certain moments that called for it more than others. I mean, that scene with the sneakers. We were crackin' each other up in that scene. I couldn’t make it through it. But you also have to improvise for a kid's movie, which is tricky… for me. ‘Cause even on “Scrubs” we would improv like crazy. But, it was a more risque thing than a Disney family movie. So, you're trying to like, improvise but keep it G.
The fun thing with the kids, and I gotta thank Gail for this, is, occasionally, I'd have a funny idea for one of them and I'm sure Gab did, too. And we'd be like, “Oh, Gail, do you mind if I give them a line?” And the kids would deliver it perfectly. And it would be so funny.
That was kind of fun. ‘Cause they wouldn't necessarily have the courage—well, some of them did—but, they wouldn’t necessarily have the courage to improvise on their own. But if I thought of a funny joke for them, I'd give it to them and that was fun, too.
Why was it important to tackle issues of race and growing up and what does it mean to you to see it play out on screen?
GAIL: Kenya [Barris] and I have been working together for 6 years now. We just talk a lot about the importance of representation and really showing the world how it is. And, a lot of times, you know, movies, TV shows, it just seems like we just see white families become the norm, which is not a reflection of the world and not a reflection of the world that we want to show as storytellers.
So, to just get a chance to show a family that really looks like what America looks like now, was just an exciting opportunity to do.
It's really a standout from the previous adaptations of CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN, as well, which makes it so fresh and contemporary, like we were talking about. We alluded to it earlier. There are some moments between your character, Timon, and you, Zach, and just, obviously, everybody navigating these relationships. It's very powerful to see.
ZACH: I was so impressed with Kenya's writing and…Jeni [Genzuk Henry]'s writing. That they were able to navigate so much in a family comedy and do it so elegantly. How could you make this story and not have him and I eventually have some sort of real conversation?
When I read it, I was like, “Wow, Disney's going for it.” Kudos to them. And it works. I was impressed and proud to be a part of something that was gonna be hilarious but also be brave.
GAIL: We also wanted to show a family who goes swimming together, they play games together, they huddle up for family meetings, they have a family movie night. If people finish this movie and think, “Let's all go hang out, let's go do something fun, let's all actually have a meal together, let's open a family restaurant.” Whatever it is.
ZACH: You know, we've spoken about the race aspect, too. But also, there's a disabled child. There's a discussion of depression. There's a discussion of sexual identity. I mean, this is all incredibly woven into a family Disney comedy. I just think that it's, not to brag, but it's pretty darn good.
TIMON: When I read the script, I told my agent. I said, “I want this. And I am going to land this one.”
It's very layered. It wasn't surface. And that's the one thing that I loved about it.
And I love Dom. The way that it was written…I went all in, you know. I remember when I read for it. I was like, “I'm landing this one.” And being on the set and like, you know, like everyone was talking about the dynamic of having to feel like a family. Like, reading it and saying all this is fun and good and lovely and engaging.
But then, to be on set…especially with the Littles. And even the older kids. I was like Hagrid in Harry Potter. They pick on me and tell the dad jokes and tell little crazy stories. And I said this is off-camera, while we're filming, this is what I read. You know, this whole immersed love, fun dynamic. That's what I got from when I read it. And so, to experience that while we're filming and off-camera while we're taking breaks, it was just incredible. It was one of the best experiences I've had.
CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN is now streaming on Disney+.
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