Cast & Crew info:
Produced by Matt
Berenson, Jack Brodsky, John Davis, Wyck Godfrey, Dan Kolsrud,
Joe Roth and Heidi Santelli; Directed by Steve Carr;
Screenwritten by Geoff Rodkey
Comedy (US); Rated
PG for language; Running Time - 93 Minutes
Domestic Release Dates:
May 9, 2003
by DAVID KEYES
the average man about raising a child, and chances are he
will redirect your inquiries to a woman. If that's the sort
of generalization that most of today's male population still
happily embrace, then it's unlikely that any of them will
find a shred of appeal in "Daddy Day Care," a
film in which fathers decide to watch and manage the kids
of strangers before realizing how lackluster their parenting
skills are with their own youngsters. Indeed, as asked during
an important dialogue exchange during the early half of
the picture, "are men not capable of taking care of
a kid the same way a woman can?" Perhaps so, perhaps
not. In either case, the answer is probably too simple to
even deserve the focus of an entire movie, especially one
containing the likes of Anjelica Houston and Eddie Murphy
in front of the camera.
Day Care" is a movie about preschoolers, for preschoolers,
and probably made by preschoolers. The result is a 93-minute
exercise in mediocrity, a flat and misguided work that plays
as if all of its ideas are scribbled down in crayon on construction
paper rather than actual script pages. There is no stretch
to assume that kids can be a source of constant comic delight
on any movie screen, but can any film depend primarily on
them without the benefit of a narrative? Hardly. Watching
the adult actors slog their way through the dreary material,
they seem even more bored and frustrated than we do, as
if they're simply participating in the exercise because
they owe a favor to someone behind the scenes.
opening setup can almost be predicted rather than described.
Murphy plays Charlie Hinton, a big-shot product developer
for a local cereal distributor who always has a lovely wife
(Regina King) and a cute son to come home to after a hard
day's work. After he and his partner Phil (Jeff Garlin)
fail in an attempt to convince a panel of children to approve
their newest creation, a healthy cereal called Veggie-Os,
they are handed their walking papers. The layoff is fine
and dandy for Charlie at first... but what is to become
of his little boy, who is now enrolled in the high-profile
Chapman Academy where tuition costs practically rival most
high-profile colleges? Unemployed and unable to find work,
he resorts to his only current optionbecoming a stay-at-home
father, even though he doesn't exactly know how to keep
his son amused most of the time. Phil quickly joins in this
new adventure, although it's perhaps more hard for him because,
well, his kid is still not potty trained, and dear old dad
is still not the expert on changing diapers.
in some moment of the day when all this is going on, Charlie
decides he and Phil need to start up a day care service.
As if managing their own kids isn't difficult enough a task,
these two decide on impulse that they can manage a house
full of them while their wives are away at work. Oh, but
how some things are easier said than done, eh? In fact,
during the first few days of maintaining this new service,
as expected, they're bombarded with so many energetic little
tykes that it almost murders them before the first day is
over. And yet even after the roster multiplies rapidly over
time, they still stick with the program, perhaps only in
the beginning to benefit financially from something, eventually
realizing that coming to manage a room full of brats does
wonders to their own perspectives as parents. By the end,
rather conveniently, we're even getting the typical "I
finally realized my potential as a father" speech here
and there after Daddy Day Care becomes a major success.
How obvious, eh?
movie's villain (or rather, the outline of one) comes in
the form of Mrs. Harridan (Huston), the head of Chapman
Academy who oversees the studies of all her students and
refuses to allow anyone to interfere in tarnishing the school's
reputation. When she challenges Daddy Day Care because of
its increasing affect on current enrollment, she comes out
swinging with both fists, tipping off city inspectors to
potential problems with the in-home establishment and sabotaging
elements of their community fundraising carnivals in hopes
that their efforts will go belly-up. For any villain played
by the ravishing Huston, however, these sorts of minuscule
behaviors would never qualify meeting the definition of
a true antagonist. In fact, her character's more obvious
misdeedsforcing the Academy's young little pupils
to study German, prepare for SATs and analyze nursery rhymes
through the theories of Freudare treated here like
mere background traits. This is a movie that knows it has
to create conflict in order to have a message, but it takes
easy roads when it should be going into more thought-provoking
areas. Imagine seeing a movie about fathers who try managing
a day care center only to realize that the process can,
indeed, explain the Mrs. Harridans of the world.
Steve Carr and writer Geoff Rodkey are fairly new to this
industryCarr's only notable credits include "Doctor
Dolittle" and "Next Friday"and though
they generally come across as unpolished amateurs with their
work in "Daddy Day Care," they, at least, don't
push for something completely insulting or wretched. In
fact, during certain intervals of the film itself, we're
actually kind of amused by the implored antics (I giggled
hysterically when Charlie, on the first day of Day Care,
passed out a professional mission statement to all the kids
before realizing that none of them can read, much less care).
But what exactly is the target audience here? The movie
seems too unbalanced to even be directed at anyone specific.
Fathers, yes, may be a potential audience, but what will
they learn here that they shouldn't already know about parenting?
What can kids, furthermore, possibly hope to derive from
the material other than what their parents have already
talked to them about? Watching "Daddy Day Care"
is like being reminded of a hundred rhetorical questions.
The outcome is not joyous or very playful. It's sort of
like the routine after-school detention where you twiddle
your thumbs waiting for time to pass.
© 2003, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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if the above review contains any spelling or grammar mistakes.