Yours, Mine, and Ours

        Coast Guard Admiral Frank Beardsley (Dennis Quaid), a widower with eight kids, is in the process of moving his family to New London, CT. His new assignment is to head up the Coast Guard Academy. An old friend sets him up with a blind date and at the restaurant he meets an old high school flame, Helen (Renee Russo). Soon after they meet at their high school reunion and old sparks are rekindled.

         Helen North is a widow with ten children, four biological and six adopted. She lives a kind of bohemian lifestyle and works at home designing handbags for New York department stores. Once she and Frank get past admitting how many kids they each have, things move very quickly.

       All of a sudden they are moving all their kids, a colorful pet pig and the Beardsley’s housekeeper, Mrs. Munion (Linda Hunt) into a rundown lighthouse along the shore.

        Different parenting styles become evident immediately. Frank posts bathroom schedules while Helen is into group-hugs.


 The kids, aged about three to seventeen, don’t get along and they act out accordingly – well, as this kind of comedy does. However, they are smart enough to realize that uniting against a common enemy is in their best interest to get things back the way they were.

        The kids annoy the Admiral by destroying his charts and discourage Helen by cleaning up and putting her disorderly studio in order. Things go from bad to worse, the parents unaware they are being played by the kids. Finally, Helen and Frank decide to separate, realizing they moved too quickly. But the kids have become friends now and they decide to act quickly before it’s too late.

        This is the second film version of Yours, Mine, and Ours to be made. The first starred Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda and was released in 1968. Both are based on the 1965 book Who gets the Drumstick? by Helen Beardsley (which is out-of-print). Frank and Helen were married in 1961; they adopted each other’s children, and went on to have two children of their own. They actually lived in Carmel, CA, and were practicing Catholics (if you “google” Who gets the Drumstick? on the Internet you can find photos and information about the original family. For example, they didn’t buy a lighthouse; everyone moved into the Beardsley home and they added on to the house extensively.)

        This present film doesn’t offer any explicit religious perspective; it is even unclear if Helen and Frank even marry before they move in the lighthouse. But family values are front and center, including fostering and adopting children from various cultures and backgrounds, learning to get along, caring for one another, tolerance, to look for the good in everyone, and that family is the light of our lives.

         This 2005 version of Yours, Mine and Ours is directed by Raja Gosnell (Mrs. Doubtfire) and it has a few genuinely funny moments, and a lot of slapstick of last year’s Cheaper by the Dozen variety. The timeline of events are not realistic (nobody brings 18 kids together under one roof that fast!), but young children probably won’t notice. Linda Hunt’s role (Kindergarten Cop) as the housekeeper could have been better developed because she’s a wonderful comic actress, but I got the sense they had to cut a lot out of the film to bring the time down (or something). It was too disjointed. I would have expected more depth and finesse (even if boisterous) from Raja Gosnell.

         Yours, Mine and Ours is unexceptional and deserved a much better treatment. But it’s an OK family film.