When two fathers lose their jobs in product development at a large food company, they are forced to take their sons out of the exclusive Chapman Academy and become stay at home fathers. With no job possibilities on the horizon, the two dads open their own day care facility, "Daddy Day Care," and employ some fairly unconventional methods of caring for children. As "Daddy Day Care" starts to catch on, it launches them into a highly competitive rivalry with Chapman Academy's tough-as-nails director who has driven all previous competitors out of business.
The most astonishing thing about this film — a comedy that would have to work harder to even justify the appellation uninspired — is that a kick in the groin is now a joke for toddlers. They are both the target audience and the co-stars of this Eddie Murphy vehicle — more of a Big Wheel, really. In "Daddy Day Care," intended for those who take their apple juice in sipping cups, Mr. Murphy is an out-of-work marketing executive with no real interest in kids outside his own son. He decides to open a day-care center with Phil (Jeff Garlin), his pal and equally fired colleague, who's a little afraid of his own son. The extremely flimsy connective tissue is Mr. Murphy, who barely bothers to do takes; he'll raise an eyebrow here and there, but he mostly uses a voice so smooth and warm, you could pour it over pancakes. And in this context — in which the very young audience is so primed to react to him as Eddie Murphy, it's surprising the kids in the cast don't call him Eddie — he can get away with it, because he knows that the movie will do most of the work for him; he's Beverly Hills Pop. You can't get more high concept, or less plotted, that this, and "Daddy Day Care" is proof — it's a series of trailers for Nickelodeon, most of which feature Mr. Garlin getting attacked by something angry, either kids or bees, and, probably in the sequel, kids of bees. — Elvis Mitchell
2003-05-09 | Elvis Mitchell | Read the New York Times Review of Daddy Day Care