Daddy Day Care (PG)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner07/07/2003

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 92 mins

Average comedy in which Murphy is prepared to take a back seat to his co-stars – it has its fair share of decent laughs and, surprisingly, doesn’t overdo the sentimentality.

Eddie Murphy’s career is all over the place at the moment – for every Doctor Dolittle, there’s a Showtime, for every Nutty Professor, a Pluto Nash. So perhaps it’s not too surprising to find him taking a low-key role in what is essentially, a ‘safe’, family-oriented comedy. Because the truth is, you could replace Murphy with any other comedian (say Tim Allen or Steve Martin) without making any difference at all to Daddy Day Care.

Ad Exec Downsized

Murphy plays Charlie Hinton, an advertising executive who finds himself ‘downsized’ with his best friend Phil after their vegetable cereal (‘Veggie-O’s’) campaign fails to take off. The Fat Best Friend role here goes to Jeff Garlin (who can currently be seen as Larry David’s agent in TV’s Curb Your Enthusiasm), who does a good enough job to suggest we’ll be seeing more of him in future.

Initially Charlie looks forward to spending more time with his son Ben (Khamani Griffin), but soon discovers he needs to take another job to pay the bills. However, when he realises Ben isn’t happy at Angelica Huston’s ultra-strict, no-fun pre-school, he and Phil decide to set up their own day care scheme, at Charlie’s house. However, Huston is eeeevil and sets about trying to sabotage their efforts…

Murphy is good in the lead, but he never really lets himself go – there’s only one scene where he uses his gift for comic facial expression, when he’s reacting to an unseen, unholy mess in his bathroom.

Perhaps that’s a good thing, because it means the other comic performers (including Steve Zahn as their nerdy, Star Trek obsessed friend and helper) get a chance to shine. The kids, too, are impossibly cute and also very amusing.

Toilet And Cerebral Humour…

As well as the expected array of toilet-training related jokes, there are some good adult jokes too, such as when Zahn explains “I read Doctor Spock’s child-raising book. Guess what? It wasn’t about Star Trek at all…”

However, perhaps the most surprising thing is that moments that would normally be milked for tears and squeezed for sentimentality are really underplayed – for example, the mini-subplot involving the kid with the ‘Flash’ suit, or the ending itself (which actually seems rushed).

The only thing that really irritates is the heavy-handed “spend more time with your kids” message, which smacks a little of Hollywood guilt. However, there are some amusing scenes (mostly involving the vegetable costumes), meaning that, if you find yourself having to take a bunch of kids to see it, you probably won’t be too disappointed.

Film Trailer

Daddy Day Care (PG)
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Content updated: 21/10/2017 12:58

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