Daddy Day Care (2003)

2003_daddy_day_care_010Eddie Murphy’s career continues its downhill slope into oblivion with this bad and bland re-tread of “Mr. Mom.” Taking it’s cue from “Mr. Mom”, Charlie Hinton is fired from his job as an advertising exec when his department shuts down, and now he and his friend Phil are out of work and must stay home to take care of their children and are forced to be father’s again. But when they begin getting desperate to get back to work, they decide to market taking care of children and begin a daycare center despite the fact they have no real qualifications nor are they ever asked by the parents. In a skewed attempt they begin taking care of children and engage in various derivative scenes involving toilet humor, relying on children’s amusing qualities to draw laughter, and the usual falling over stuff for comedy.

Murphy stars alongside a decent array of poorly cast actors who fail to bring a comedic touch to the film and just can’t hack it with poorly developed supporting roles, and there’s not a spark of enthusiasm from anyone. The children have no personalities, nothing likable about them, and act simply as caricatures of children. They’re tools for the “comedy” of Murphy who looks desperate to outdo them, but fails in every prospect.  Jeff Garlin fails to bring any of the comedic nature he holds so well in the show to this film and is basically a character that is derived from “Curb”. He’s the supporting character and the straight man to Murphy’s bland antics and even engages in some antics himself including fighting in a battle dressed as a vegetable, strumming a guitar singing old songs to keep the kids busy, and doing the obligatory falling over and crashing into things.

If that’s not enough, the usually bland and unlikable Steve Zahn plays Marvin, an old employee and resident trekkie from Murphy’s company who comes aboard the daddy daycare and slowly begins taking a liking towards the children and their antics. His character pops up out of nowhere, has little to no set-up and enters the daycare center and the story very awkwardly. Then there’s the resident heels; every movie needs them, and, I guess so do kids movies. Heaven forbid we should have a family comedy about men learning to like children and gaining a sense of usefulness in the world. No. In an embarrassing role, the legendary Angelica Houston is basically mis-used as the obligatory villainess who runs a posh high class daycare with her sidekick Jenny played by the under-used and adorable Lacey Chabert who’s given little to nothing to say or do, and has no sub-plot.

The director and writers attempt to make the posh school look like a dungeon and try to make Houston’s character look spooky and overly-disciplinary even sporting black make up and a tight bun, but, as hard as they try, the school looks damn good. We see kids reciting poetry, acting orderly, and speaking foreign languages. We’re run through the usual storylines with the bland characters and Houston twirls her brow and laughs maniacally attempting to stop daddy daycare, because–I’m not sure, exactly. The film suspends logic by showing parents increasingly bringing their children to the care of two weird, out of work men without credentials letting their kids roam free rather than bringing them to a posh daycare to actually learn things. Maybe it’s about time Murphy fired his agent and tried reviving his career.