94 minutes of hell. For fuck’s sake, this sort of thing must
stop. How is it that talentless fuckers are getting paid to
write movie scripts and we’re not? I don’t quite know how
to read this. Does it mean that this script actually looked
good compared to the rest of the execrable scribblings that
passed under the producers’ eyes? Or does it mean the producers
wouldn’t know a decent script if it bit them in the ass, and
we’ve been deprived of countless worthwhile, entertaining
Charlie (Murphy) stays up late nights, working on
marketing campaigns for healthful (Veggie-Os, anyone?) breakfast
cereals for kids. He leaves family concerns to his wife, Kim
(King), who’s about to re-enter the job market after
four years of being a stay-at-home mom. They plan to enroll
their son Ben (Griffin) in Chapman Academy, a crêche
for high-achieving tots run by one Miss Harridan (Huston),
but fate takes a hand. The project Charlie and his colleague
Phil (Garlin) were working on is axed in favor of a choco-nugget
cereal. Out of work and out of money, the guys band together
and decide to open a day care center.
For fellows whose day to day involved focus groups and the
youth market, these guys sure don’t know much about kids.
Their initial attempts at childcare result in the kind of
pratfalls and slapstick that are the staples of caricatured
inept fatherhood. The good news is, the dads never resorted
to electronic babysitters—TV and videos—to manage the kids.
The bad news is, well, the bad news is the rest of the movie.
What guys in this day and age could be such hopeless, hapless
clowns? I’m insulted on behalf of dads throughout the entire
Eventually the guys hit their groove. And once they bring
in Marvin (Zahn), a former mail clerk and über-Trekkie
who has a way with kids, things start going so smoothly that
Charlie and Phil begin to value and enjoy their work. And,
of course, it is work, even though there are a couple of scenes
where folks refer to childcare as not being a “real job.”
Kim even says this, and after she’s been at home with Ben
for several years. But I digress.
Daddy Day Care is a connect-the-dots exercise that
doesn’t skip a single family comedy/heartwarmer cliché. Potty
humor? Check. Somewhat dim dad? Oh yeah. Montage of rampaging
kids? Check. Over-the-top villain? Present and accounted for.
Gratuitous groin kicking? Yep, though it sure beats me why
groin kicking has assumed such a traditional place in children’s
This entertainment comes to us courtesy of Geoff Rodkey,
who makes his feature screenwriting debut here, and Steve
Carr, who directed Murphy’s Dr. Doolittle movie and Next
Friday. I have no doubt that a PG movie, opening near
the end of the school year, will be able to make a little
money, but one would hope for a bit more than this intellectually
insulting (there’s that word again—no help for it, it’s the
watchword of this movie) story.
The story is full of let-downs. For example: When the daddies
open their day care center, Miss Harridan calls Child Protective
Services on them. Now we’re supposed to sympathize with the
daddies and not this nasty bitch, but guess what? The filmmakers
have just spent several minutes showing us how clueless these
guys are. I’d call DPCS too! Furthermore, when the guys confront
Miss Harridan about it, she responds with (if you ask me,
valid) concerns for the kids’ welfare and educations. But
by the time the movie ends, Miss Harridan has become a nyah-hah-hah
villainness of melodrama, resorting to fiendish dirty tricks
(one of the few truly funny moments is the cameo of Cheap
Trick while said dirty tricks are going on) and solely
motivated by her desire to crush an economic competitor. And
Huston doesn’t even get to be as deliciously evil at it as
she was as the head witch in The Witches.
The guys get their marketing jobs back, then belatedly discover
what’s really important to them. Gosh, don’t you wish we could
write shit like this? That half-star is for the really amusing
oldies soundtrack and the presence of Cheap Trick. (One wonders
if the filmmakers have actually listened to the words to “Surrender”
or just picked it because the refrain includes the words mommy
and daddy.) My heart bleeds for them to have been involved
in this five-car-pile-up.
Mr. Murphy has a highly successful career as a voice actor
(Mulan, Shrek). He would do well to confine his efforts
to that arena. The empty-calorie cereals Charlie and Phil
deplore are the perfect metaphor for this movie: Don’t feed
this swill to your kids.