By all appearances, "Yours, Mine & Ours" is a wholesome PG comedy. Its message, about the blending of two families, will appeal to many Americans experiencing similar situations. But the truth is, the film has been entirely purged of PP, or People Presence. Dennis Quaid plays Frank Beardsley, a Coast Guard officer, widower and loving father of eight children. At a high school reunion, he meets and falls back in love with former sweetheart Helen North (Rene Russo), who has 10 children and, like Frank, is widowed.

When Frank and Helen impulsively get married, parenting systems collide: Frank must tolerate a family that regularly employs the group hug; Helen has to contend with inspection parades. The children are the unhappiest, eventually conspiring to undermine both parents with underhanded sabotage, such as filling the fridge with raw meat to gross out Helen and holding wild parties to infuriate Frank. Of course, the children learn to collaborate and find they're really not so unhappy after all.

The plot for this movie's magnificent averageness was apparently synthesized from three works: the 1965 book "Who Gets the Drumstick?," by the real Helen Beardsley, which inspired a 1968 movie starring Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball, as well as "The Brady Bunch" TV show. The storyline is so familiar ("Cheaper by the Dozen," et al), the audience can practically call out scenes ahead of time.

-- Desson Thomson