Making the Grades
Parenting can be a challenge at the best of times. But when the kids outnumber you by 900%, it's even more important to maintain a united front.
Frank Beardsley (Dennis Quaid) is a widowed Coast Guard officer who runs a tight ship at home. His eight children march to a rigid schedule of chores and regimented activities.
After moving his family back to his hometown to accept a new job, he runs into his former flame Helen North (Rene Russo). She too has lost her husband and is raising her ten free-spirited children and their pet pig while working as a fashion designer. At their high school reunion, the couple reminisces about their past and fall hook, line and sinker for one another. Deciding to marry, they opt for a private ceremony before breaking the news to all eighteen kids.
Unfortunately, the announcement goes over like a free falling anchor. The trouble further escalates when the newly formed family moves into a ramshackle lighthouse on the edge of town. Frank's disciplined approach to bathroom schedules and room assignments clashes with Helen's unconventional, laissez-faire attitude. Even the Beardsley's housekeeper (Linda Hunt) is incapable of smoothing the transition for her charges and their new siblings because of her fondness for martinis and professional wrestling.
Trying to create a familial bond, Frank takes the whole group out for a day on the ocean. But the rolling waves result in a vomit-covered deck and plenty of mutiny among the conscripted sailors. Back on shore, the bickering and name-calling continues. Then Helen introduces her family's policy of talking things out and giving group hugs. Recognizing how different their upbringings are, the kids finally realize the only way to get things back to normal is by joining forces to break up the marriage. Picking on their parents' weak points, the older kids, William (Sean Faris), Christina (Katija Pevec), Phoebe (Danielle Panabaker) and Dylan (Drake Bell), form a plan to dissolve the recently created union and get the two families back in their own spaces.
But despite their strategic maneuvers, the kids aren't prepared for the outcome of their aggressive, postnuptial tactics.
While few films focus on the positive aspects of family life, Yours, Mine and Ours does concentrate on depicting parents who want to make things work despite the obstacles. Although there is plenty of destructive behavior during a home renovation project and an outing to the hardware store, the story allows the connection between the kids to form over time instead of relying on a last minute attitude adjustment. There is even some remorse shown for an unsupervised house party that gets out of control.
Blending two households into one big happy family isn't an easy task, yet success seems more likely when these feuding factions finally form friendly alliances.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Yours, Mine and Ours.
Helen believes that home is a place for free expression while Frank thinks rules are important to keep things running smoothly. Which notion do you agree with? What are the pros and cons of each approach?
What challenges can blended families face? Why can’t Frank and Helen simply “pick up” on the relationship they had in high school? What sacrifices do the kids have to make? Why are Frank and Helen adamant about referring to the kids as “ours”?
What events help the children change their attitudes toward their parents’ marriage?