Having grown up in a large family myself, this is the kind of film that I feel at home watching. I am the oldest of six children, and while it was sometimes hectic--my gosh, was it fun! If I were married, I'm sure I would be having a large family, too.
I really loved the message of this movie. While Helen is in labor--"Dad, Dad! Mom says they're coming six minutes apart!"--her oldest daughter Colleen is agonizing over what to do about her boyfriend, who considers her old-fashioned and prudish. This is when Henry Fonda gives one of the best little speeches I have ever heard in the movies, about life and love. He basically says, "Until you're ready for this, [pregnancy] forget it."
In today's society, this message is sorely needed.
Though this is a comedy, and bits of it are truly hilarious, it is not overdone and focuses well on important family issues. Lucille Ball is very much not Lucy in this film, and is the perfect blend of serious and funny. Many of the younger actors are very recognizable despite their youth including Tim Matheson and Tracy Nelson who, due to her smile and other facial features, is easy to spot as the approximately three-year-old Jermaine.
The dual narration, assembly line lunch making, industrial laundry chores, military-like logistics for bathroom sharing, and grocery shopping for an apparent army are all interestingly staged. The movie also includes a nice variety of settings including the crowded house, bar, aircraft carrier, clinic, navel base, school, commissary, and hospital.
This is an uplifting family story and a wonderful Christmastime feel-good movie, though it is fun to watch all year round.
J.H. Sweet, author of The Fairy Chronicles
Heck, you NEED the vast viewing range of wonderful widescreen in this flick just to keep track of all those dang kids!
It was shot in widescreen in 1968, as were about 95% of all films made after 1953, so there's no excuse for chopping it down to this putrid pan-and-scan nightmare. Another Amazon reviewer (from Derby, CT) said it all about this ridiculous ripoff of an otherwise very cute movie:
"Great film but who wants to watch a film like this in pan and scan format. Listen up studios, WIDESCREEN, WIDESCREEN, WIDESCREEN!!!!"
Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda are both excellent in their role as loving but harried parents trying to blend two families into one without going crazy. The ups and downs they have are played for fun but even so the feeling of a real family comes through. As parents, both are willing to give up their own feelings to help the other and their children. They present a good example of loving parents trying to adjust to life in a crowd of 18 children.