Daddy Day Care (2003)
Beverly Hills Pop
My dear Jennifer... In life, there are winners and there are losers; and to win, you have to play dirty! - Mrs. Harridan
To put it simply "Daddy Day Care" is Eddie Murphy doing Steve Martin, in fact released in the same year that Steve Martin gave us "Cheaper by the Dozen" it feels almost like a variation on that movie as Eddie Murphy plays an out of work father who ends up looking after a lot of children. As such it is fair to say that "Daddy Day Care" is one seriously obvious movie, there is the comedy of chaotic children followed by more chaos, a touch of nefarious rivalry with an already established day care school oh and typically Murphy's character realising how much he loves caring for children by the rime the movie ends. It is also fair to say that this is one of Murphy's safest movies, his loud, edgy humour has gone replaced by well not much to be honest and those who love Murphy's dangerous side will find it not only tame but lame. But to be honest whilst "Daddy Day Care" offers up nothing new it is a pleasant enough watch, delivering the humour you expect in a very safe, family friendly way.
When Charlie (Eddie Murphy - Nutty Professor II: The Klumps) & Phil (Jeff Garlin) both lose their jobs they find it a struggle to find employment and are left at home to look after their children when they can't afford to put them into the exclusive Chapman Academy. Spotting an opportunity to set up their own day care and rival the Chapman Academy they go into business and soon discover that looking after children is not so simple especially when the Principal of Chapman, Mrs. Gwyneth Harridan (Anjelica Huston - Blood Work), feels threatened by the competition and makes life as difficult as she can for them.
So as already pointed out "Daddy Day Care" was released in the same year as "Cheaper by the Dozen" and it is shares a lot of similarities. We may get a set up which sees Charlie, Phil and their friend Marvin become unemployed but the crux of the movie is watching these men discover that looking after children is not easy. As such a lot of the movie is about chaos, children running around the house, things getting broken and the men trying all manner of things to restore calm and occupy them. We may get the rivalry with a posh school and the frequent visits from an inspector but for the most this is a movie which trades on the fun of children running adults ragged.
And typically all of this chaos leads to Charlie discovering not only how much he loves caring for children but how important it is for children to be children rather than growing up too fast. None of which is original and basically every element of "Daddy Day Care" has been done before be it in Steve Martin's "Cheaper by the Dozen" or any other movie which focus on men trying to raise or care for children. But whilst not in the least bit original it is still fun and there are some imaginative elements to the movie, wrestling vegetables whilst totally daft is funny so is the lesson that Charlie & Phil learn when on the first day they give the kids a sugar rich lunch.
Now "Daddy Day Care" is by no means Eddie Murphy's first foray into family friendly entertainment and not his best either but it is for me one of his safest. Pretty much everything you have comes to expect from Eddie Murphy, the loud laugh, the edgy humour is no where to be seen basically leaving the big smile and that's it. The sad thing is that a neutered Eddie Murphy isn't as funny and in a role which demands some form of slapstick it feels strangely absent, basically you expect Murphy to deliver the same sort of visual humour that Steve Martin uses but he doesn't. And to be honest whilst there are fun performances from Jeff Garlin, Steve Zahn and Anjelica Huston the focus is Eddie Murphy and so it never quite comes alive.
What this all boils down to is that with "Daddy Day Care" we have a movie which we have basically seen before, it is simply kids causing chaos for adults. It's not a terrible movie, in fact it is surprisingly pleasant but it is by no means the best example of this sort of movie and by no means is Eddie Murphy's best attempt at family friendly humour although it is probably his safest.
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