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"Daddy Day Care" - Movie Review

"Daddy Day Care" - Movie Review

Genre: Comedy

Rating: PG (for language)

Release Date: May 9, 2003

Actors: Eddie Murphy, Anjelica Huston, Steve Zahn, Jeff Garlin, Lacey Chabert, Regina King

Director: Steve Carr

Special Notes: The idea for the story came from a writer who was home watching his seven-month old while his wife went back to work. Eddie Murphy is himself a father of four children and said that given a choice between the two daycare centers, he would choose a center like "Daddy Day Care" because it's loose and fun. Steve Zahn says the best part about making movies is getting to play with his play station in his trailer.

Plot: Charlie (Murphy) and Phil (Garlin) work for a high profile product development company that lays them off when their campaign is pulled. When both men are forced to take their sons out of the prestigious Chapman Academy and become stay-at-home fathers, a brilliant idea is born. The two men decide to open "Daddy Day Care" and incorporate their own brand of childcare using unconventional methods that are unstructured (they give the kids sugar rushes so they'll take naps), fun helpers who can relate with the kids (Zahn) and innovative ideas. As word about "Daddy Day Care" spreads to the director (Huston) of Chapman Academy (known for their high academic standards) and students begin to drop out, Miss Harridan devises a way to wreak havoc on her rivals. Charlie and Phil are faced with some tough decisions about which career will make then the happiest AND the best dads.

Good: I went to this movie with a couple of single girlfriends who've never been married nor had children, and it was interesting to see their reaction. Although they thought it was a 'cute' story, I don't think they related to the 'kid' humor that only a parent can fully understand or appreciate. This is a story that deals with the little things that little people do, day in and day out, that create a world all their own. It has numerous scenes of potty training dialogue, toddler's screaming and running wild all over the house, lots of bumbling situations that the men find themselves in and a subtle theme of who can watch children better, dads or moms. Having had three kids (who are now teenagers), I chuckled and laughed at almost every scene because I could relate to the funny elements of parenthood. I'm not saying that people who don't have children won't 'get' this movie or find it funny; Murphy is king at saving a scene and entertaining. I'm simply making a point that much of the content is about dads learning how to discipline their kids and adults communicating with toddlers. There's also toilet training humor, a kid who wears a costume who won't take it off, day in and day out child care, and dads coming up with enough songs to entertain kids. Murphy and Garlin are a great team and deliver a very funny premise. Huston can play a nasty, mean shrew like no other, she's perfect in this role. One of my favorite lines in the movie is when Charlie's son tries to make him feel guilty about his mom leaving him with his dad and Murphy flatly says in his hilarious tone, "You tried to break me down in the driveway didn't you?" Bottom line, the story centers on loving your children and doing what's best for them -- whether it's from a father or mother. I like that this story shows men taking responsibility for their children. I wish there had been daycare like this one years ago when I needed it. My boys would have loved it.

Bad: Like I mentioned, the movie drags in a few parts and could have used better editing to tighten it up and keep it flowing. There's potty humor and a few crude words, but nothing your kids haven't heard before. Again, if you're looking for an action movie with great special effects then check out the competition because this movie is strictly about parents and kids.

Bottom Line: However, if you're ready for a lighthearted comedy with a darling cast of cute kids, a funny buddy duo and great kid-friendly entertainment, then this is your movie! It's interesting to note that not long ago, Murphy used to be known for using bad language in his films and comedy routines. Since he's had kids, Murphy has been more discerning, choosing family films and roles his kids can watch with him … and we are all the richer for it!