Daddy Day Care

on May 09, 2003 by Tim Cogshell
There is something almost perverse in the fact that Eddie Murphy, who ranks among the top 10 all-time lewd comics right alongside the likes of Lenny Bruce and Richard Pryor, has found some of his greatest success making children's movies. His remakes of the "The Nutty Professor" and "Doctor Dolittle," not to mention his work in the animated film "Shrek," have earned hundreds of millions of dollars and reestablished Murphy as a major box-office draw. And, frankly, they're all pretty good and enjoyable for the whole family. "Daddy Day Care" is much the same. Pretty good with something for everyone. That said, it's not like you haven't seen this movie before. It's the one where the job-obsessed father (in this case an advertising executive for breakfast cereal) gets canned and ends up staying at home to raise the kid as his wife (Regina King of "Jerry Maguire") goes off to pay the bills. The underlying premise being that men--by virtue of some innate stupidity--are incapable of managing three-year-olds. It compounds the issue by adding some 12 other three-year-olds to the mix when Charlie (Murphy) and his also unemployed partner, Phil (Jeff Garlin of HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm"), decide to open a day care to earn some money and occupy their time until "real work" comes along.

For the most part this is fodder for a number of jokes involving children acting like children, or children acting like adults. Both of which are, for some reason, funny. One little girl carries a cell phone and pager while running meetings on potential play-time events and instructing everyone to "write that down," since she cannot write herself. On the other hand, one little boy will only wear a Flash superhero costume, while a third finds it funny to kick adult men in the private area, and yet another only speaks in Klingon. All of which is quite funny, especially juxtaposed with the sometimes equally juvenile antics of their caretakers.

There's also a storyline involving a high-class rival day care school run by a Miss Gwyneth Harridan (Anjelica Huston, doing a wicked Cruella DeVille impression), who'd like to destroy Daddy Day Care, but that hardly matters. This is cute. Your kids will like it, and you will too. Starring Eddie Murphy, Jeff Garlin, Steve Zahn, Regina King and Anjelica Huston. Directed Steve Carr. Written by Geoff Rodkey. Produced by Matt Berenson and Wyck Godfrey. A Columbia release. Comedy. Rated PG for language. Running time: 92 min

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