Daddy Day Care (2003)

Daddy Day Care movie.jpgEddie Murphy needs to be grounded

Director: Steve Carr
Running Time: 92 Minutes
Starring: Eddie Murphy, Jeff Garlin, Steve Zahn, Anjelica Huston, Regina King, Lacey Chabert

Few careers are more interesting than that of Eddie Murphys. Once a prominent star known for his foul mouthed humour, his transition to family friendly fare was a curious decision, to say the least. The results were less than stellar, and this is just one of many perfect examples of how far the once adored star truly fell.

Charlie Hinton (Eddie Murphy) and Phil Ryerson (Jeff Garlin, as loud as ever) lose their jobs in a large food company, leaving them to become stay at home dads. Seeing no alternative job prospects, the dads open their own day care facility surprisingly called "Daddy Day Care".

From early on, there's a distinct lack of attempt inherent throughout. The lack of logic is clear, failing to give an answer as to why a desperate for money family cannot sell one of their two cars. Even more noticeable are the half-assed attempts of slapstick, bearing the feel that no actual effort was put into them.

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A recurring gag (that's most likely unintentional) are how often children are seen attacking adults, while the parents are too lax to bother doing a single thing about it. It's repetitive, and smacks of laziness. But the humour reaches toxicity levels once the thinly veiled homophobia comes into play, with one parent labelling our two male leads as "sickos" for merely attempting to run a day care.

The characters come off more as caricatures, with little effort made to deviate from their rote actions and lacking characterization. The actors don't fare much better, either venturing over the top or wooden for their roles. It's as though they expected the kids acting cute would distract from their lack of effort, and sadly, even Anjelica Huston manages to fall victim to this.

When it comes time to crank out the standard happy ending, Steve Carr makes the befuddling decision to resolve things with what's essentially a mass kidnapping. The fact this is allowed is proof that no rational thought went into this picture, and puts a dark cloud over the artificial attempt to deliver a feel good ending.

As a comedy, Daddy Day Care is an infantile mess in need of a time out. Relying on a combination of the children being destructive annoyances, and adults too inept and incompetent. At best, this is an effective advertisement for contraception.