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Yours, Mine and Ours

Movies | Forget the remake and rent the original that starred Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball

Issue: "Comfort and joy," Dec. 24, 2005

The original Yours, Mine and Ours was made in 1968, starring Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball. Back then blended families were not as common as they are in today's divorce-wracked culture. The story of a widow with eight children marrying a widower with 10 hinged on the complications of living in a 20-person family, from large-scale sibling rivalry issues to the high cost of buying groceries.

Today's remake, starring Dennis Quaid and Rene Russo, not content with the inherent drama of ordinary family life, throws in the culture wars.

The dad is a Coast Guard admiral, who pipes his brood to attention, makes charts of the duties of the day, and organizes his kids to keep the household shipshape. The mom is an artsy hippie who believes "homes are for free expression," so that her house is a mess, her kids run wild, and her "nonjudgmental" family meetings come complete with "talking sticks" and "group hugs."

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Mom and Dad get along fine (why is not clear) but the two tribes of children cannot stand each other. They decide to "unite against a common enemy" by trying to break up their parents. The dad's boys dress up like girls, making him worry about his wife's baleful influence. The mom's kids start playing with guns. The parents do split up, but the children, guilt-ridden to see each parent so unhappy, now must get them back together.

This sounds like a good movie, but it falls short of its material. Instead of witty dialogue, we have unfunny slapstick. Instead of living characters, we have cultural stereotypes. The ideological clash is portrayed as if it really shouldn't matter and so is never resolved, while still overwhelming the warmer family themes. Forget the remake and rent the original.

Gene Edward Veith
Gene Edward Veith

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