2003
Rated: PG for mild language.
Genre: Family/Kids Comedy
Directed By: Jeff Carr
Running Time: 1:33
Review by: Felix Vasquez Jr.
Review Date: 5/23/04
DVD Features:
Trailers
Featurettes - 1. MEET THE 'DADDY DAY CARE' KIDS
2. QUIET ON THE SET
3. GOOD MORNING, EDDIE MURPHY!
4. WHAT DID THAT KID SAY?
5. EARLY BLOOMERS Animated Short
Blooper Reel
Interactive Features:
Name the Noise Maker Game
Kid Card Match Up Game
Odd One Out Game
DADDY DAYCARE

 

There are some cute moments during this film involving the children including one who is dressed in a "Flash" outfit and refuses to get out of it, another who will not stop screaming when his mom leaves unless she's given money, and a pretty sequence involving show and tell in which a young girl loses her pet tarantula. Nuff said.

Ah Eddie Murphy's career continues its downhill slope into oblivion with this bad and bland re-tread of "Mr. Mom" except Micheal Keaton is nowhere to be found, and that's where the problem lies.

Murphy's films lately have been sad, and it seems life as a family man has somewhat tainted his choice in films with bland family fare like "Dr. Dolittle", and "Pluto Nash". Heck, even his more risqué films are still rather lightweight and awful (i.e. I-Spy). Taking it's cue from "Mr. Mom", Charlie Hinton is fired from his job as an advertising exec when his department shuts down, and now he and his friend Phil are out of work and must stay home to take care of their children and are forced to be father's again.

But when they begin getting desperate to get back to work, they decide to market taking care of children and begin a daycare center despite the fact they have no real qualifications nor are they ever asked by the parents. So, in a skewed attempt they begin taking care of children and engage in various derivative scenes involving toilet humor, relying on children's amusing qualities to draw laughter, and the usual falling over stuff for comedy.

What happened to the old Eddie Murphy with the lighting fast tongue and on-key impressions? Now he's been slowly muddled in his career with these tame family vehicles that are just nauseating. Some will say he's matured, but many comedians have managed to mature in their later years and are still damned funny, and Murphy has failed on both ends.

He's matured but in the process has given up everything that makes him so funny to begin with. His sharp tongue is dulled, and his once wild personality has now been subdued and downplayed to a rather embarrassing halt. Murphy stars alongside a decent array of poorly cast actors who fail to bring a comedic touch to the film and just can't hack it with poorly
developed supporting roles, and there's not a spark of enthusiasm from anyone.

Everyone looks simply bored as does Murphy who is missing his usual charisma he left in "The Nutty Professor". Murphy breaks the golden rule of acting: Never star alongside kids or
animals, and Murphy breaks the rule. This isn't a comedy about two men learning to appreciate children or about the children themselves and their own lives, it's simply about two numbskulls who open up a daycare.

The children have no personalities, nothing likable about them, and act simply as caricatures of children. They're tools for the "comedy" of Murphy who looks desperate to outdo them, but fails in every prospect. "Kindergarten Cop", one of my favorite family films was funny not just because of its story, but because each kid had a personality, each kid was likable, and each kid were characters and individuals.

Jeff Garlin who's known for starring in the hilarious "Curb your Enthusiasm" fails to bring any of the comedic nature he holds so well in the show to this film and is basically a character that is derived from "Curb". He's the supporting character and the straight man to Murphy's bland antics and even engages in some antics himself including fighting in a battle
dressed as a vegetable, strumming a guitar singing old songs to keep the kids busy, and doing the obligatory falling over and crashing into things.

If that's not enough, the usually bland and unlikable Steve Zahn plays Marvin, an old employee and resident trekkie from Murphy's company who comes aboard the daddy daycare and slowly begins taking a liking towards the children and their antics. His character pops up out of nowhere, has little to no set-up and enters the daycare center and the story very awkwardly.

Then there's the resident heels; every movie needs them, and, I guess so do kids movies. Heaven forbid we should have a family comedy about men learning to like children and gaining a sense of usefulness in the world. No. In an embarrassing role, the legendry Angelica Houston is basically mis-used as the obligatory villainess who runs a posh high class daycare with her sidekick Jenny played by the under-used and adorable Lacey Chabert who's given little to nothing to say or do, and has no sub-plot.

The director and writers attempt to make the posh school look like a dungeon and try to make Houston's character look spooky and overly-disciplinary even sporting black make up and a tight bun, but, as hard as they try, the school looks damn good. We see kids reciting poetry, acting orderly, and speaking foreign languages. Hell, I wish I could have benefited from a school like that, but no, the main message is: good school bad, make kids learn, bad school good, let kids run around.

Then in a horrible range of sequences, Murphy and his wife played by Regina King, look for other daycares and, at one point, come across a trailer in which an ugly dirty woman is taking care of children and smoking. It's an obvious and offensive cliché about people in trailers, and a rather blatant desperate attempt at comedy. Where would a woman like that get the license to take care of children?

Anyway, we're run through the usual storylines with the bland characters and Houston twirls her brow and laughs maniacally attempting to stop daddy daycare, because--I'm not sure, exactly. The film suspends logic by showing parents increasingly bringing their children to the care of two weird, out of work men without credentials letting their kids roam free rather than bringing them to a posh daycare to actually learn things.

So, we're led through an under-developed scene with a fundraiser for daddy daycare, more maniacal laughing from Houston, and a bland happy ending that makes one last attempt to spark comedy by showing what happened to Houston's character, and the fate of Daddy Daycare. Cute. Maybe it's about time Murphy fired his agent and tried reviving his career.

While some scenes and characters will touch audience's soft spots, ultimately it's just another bland, poorly acted, Eddie Murphy family vehicle that fails to spark laughs or any true logic.
 


 

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