"Daddy Day Care"
Directed by Steve Carr ("Next Friday").
Written by Geoff Rodkey.
Starring Eddie Murphy, Steve Zahn and Anjelica Huston.
Release Year: 2003
Review Date: 5/29/03
I guess I didn’t have to, but I do have a
soft spot in my heart for Eddie Murphy, even if the man did make
“The Adventures of Pluto Nash.” (Even I didn’t catch THAT one.
But, friends, Bellviewer Matt “Moneybags” McGrath did, and the
review that came back from him was, well, less than positive.
This time around, Eddie made a good choice.
“Daddy Day Care” is the story of two men, Charlie (Murphy) and Phil
(Jeff Garlin, “Curb Your Enthusiasm”), that work for an agency that
is responsible for promoting a healthy cereal line. Predictably,
the project they are working on doesn’t take off--in a hilarious
segment where kids test the cereal and revolt against all things
good for you--and the two friends get laid off. To make money, they
decide to start a day care center out of Charlie’s house...and, that
is when the fun really begins as the two men get more than they
bargained for while taking care of more than 10 of the local
toddlers in their neighborhood.
Murphy is good, but the real goods come from
supporting character Marvin, played by Steve Zahn. Much as he does
in his other films, and this year in
“National Security”, he saves
normally-lukewarm material with an attitude that belies a man who
must know he is not performing in “Citizen Kane.” Everyone in my
theater burst out into laughter while Zahn spoke to another
character in Klingon; they say that you can’t teach the best
comedians, cause they are just naturals. Anjelica Huston--yes, THAT
Anjelica Huston--gives life to an otherwise stereotyped role as the
bad girl private school headmaster that is competing with Daddy Day
Care for afterschool attention.
As with all films of this genre, though, the
real fun comes with the kids, and the collection assembled here are
a good mix of cute, funny, playful and diverse. The best
performance comes from actor Khamani Griffin as Charlie’s son Ben;
even Griffin’s outtakes are funny during the credits, and the part
is not overly cute, which was good because it didn’t wear on me to
watch him seem wishful that his father would pay more attention to
The movie is slow in parts and Garlin seems
to spend a bit too much of his screen time yelling for no reason.
Kevin Nealon, former funnyman on “Saturday Night Live”, is
underutilized and not given any funny lines to utter in his three
scenes. And, I’ll admit that save for the concept of the day care
center, the characters, settings, and plot devices that come up
during the course of the story are things that have been done better
by dozens of films before “Daddy Day Care.” The lack of originality
isn’t a sore spot, it’s just something you notice in seeing a
hundred films a year.
But, for a family film, “Daddy Day Care” is
a good value for $6 or $7. Its staying power at the box office the
last three weekends has been quite a surprise; it’s right on track
to once again make $100 million and keep Murphy appearing in family
flicks for the next few years, for sure.
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard