It's rare that a remake surpasses the original version of a film, and "Yours, Mine & Ours" (Paramount) is no exception.
This is a vastly inferior rendering of the 1968 Henry Fonda-Lucille Ball charmer, based on "Who Gets the Drumstick?" by the real-life Helen Beardsley, concerning a widowed naval officer, Frank Beardsley (Dennis Quaid), with eight children and a free-spirited widow, Helen North (Rene Russo), with 10, who marry, and the comic complications that arise from the merger of the families.
Frank runs his household with the military precision of a good-natured Captain Von Trapp. Helen, with her multiracial brood (some adopted), "manages" a chaotic home that allows unbridled expression, even to the point of having a pet pig in the kitchen sink. In other words, she is indulgent to point of incredulity.
When the film begins, both are looking for new mates. They meet by chance in a restaurant, and we learn that they had been high school sweethearts. Old sparks are rekindled, but each assumes the other is married.
Eventually, they sort out the misunderstanding and wed (oddly, not shown), and the two households come together with results approximating oil and water. The kids of each family resent their new siblings, until it occurs to them they can break up the newlyweds. By the time they succeed, they, of course, discover they like each other after all. But is it too late?
Despite a heart-tugging ending, director Raja Gosnell relies way too much on unrealistic slapstick. They might have scored points by going back to Beardsley's book. Instead the credits read "based on the 1968 motion picture screenplay by Melville Shavelson and Mort Lachman." It should say "very loosely." Even a line-by-line copy would have been preferable.
Quaid is highly watchable and a natural farceur, but Russo is utterly bland and a far cry from Ball, whose performance in the first film was one of her best post-"I Love Lucy" outings.
The greatest comedy must be grounded in reality, and the silly shenanigans here -- a chain of kids hanging precariously out a high window, each holding the next by the ankles, or Quaid sailing through the air in cartoon fashion after slipping on wet paint -- are just plain ludicrous.
Apart from some mild innuendo, there's nothing objectionable here from a moral standpoint. But you'll be better off renting the original. Even youngsters, we bet, will intuit the difference between that fine film and this dull, unfunny remake.
The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is A-I -- general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG -- parental guidance suggested.
These movies have been evaluated for artistic merit and moral suitability by the media reviewing division of Catholic News Service. The reviews include the CNS rating, the Motion Picture Association of America rating, and a brief synopsis of the movie.
The classifications are as follows:
A-I -- general patronage;
A-II -- adults and adolescents;
A-III -- adults;
L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. L replaces the previous classification, A-IV.
O -- morally offensive.
Note: Some movies previously were designated A-IV. Older films with this classification should be regarded as classified L.