Bad News Bears, Cheaper by the Dozen 2, Dr Dolittle 3

By Ewan McDonald

Bad News Bears: Herald rating: * *
Cheaper By The Dozen 2: Herald rating: * *
Dr Dolittle 3: Herald rating: *

Three family films, each of which is a remake or another in the continuing story ... and none of which had to be made.

In Bad News Bears, Billy Bob Thornton takes over Walter Matthau's sweatshirt as the grumpy old sports coach.

Thornton mixes his Bad Santa and Friday Night Lights personas as Morris Buttermaker, the drunk, potty-mouthed and washed-up baseballer who coaches a down-at-heel kids' team, the Bears.

The Bears wouldn't be playing if it weren't for Liz Whitewood (Marcia Gay Harden), an activist lawyer who has filed a case alleging that the league discriminates against minorities. So coach Buttermaker has a black kid, two Spanish speakers, an Indian, a scrawny kid and one in a wheelchair, none of whom can play ball.

Even if you haven't seen the 1976 original in countless replays on TV, or its two sequels, you know that by the end of the movie Bad News will become Good News and Buttermaker will be a kinder, gentler coach.

Cheaper by the Dozen 2 has Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt back as Mom and Dad Baker to a dozen kids.

Well, not quite a dozen this time, as the daughters played by Hilary Duff and Piper Perabo have "left home" and others are on their way to college.

Mom and Dad get the kids together for one last family holiday at a lakeside cottage, which turns the focus to Alyson Stoner as Sarah, on the edge of adolescence and first love.

Dr Dolittle 3 realises that most of the original characters ran out of puff in the last outing - viewers may remember that Eddie Murphy's DD2 featured a lot of wind - and this video-movie transfers the lead to the good doctor's wife.

Lisa (Kristen Wilson) sends her daughter to a dude ranch to find herself. There she uses her talent at talking with the animals in order to save the place from being taken over by a neighbouring ranch.

* Dvd, video rental today

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