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"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 him.

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.

Rating:  Matinee


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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 "Office Space"). 

"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, 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 half stars." 

"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 Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09