Daddy Day Care

Daddy Day Care

2003, PG, 91 min. Directed by Steve Carr. Starring Eddie Murphy, Jeff Garlin, Anjelica Huston, Steve Zahn, Regina King, Kevin Nealon, Lacey Chabert, Khamani Griffin, Shane Baumel, Cesar Flores, Elle Fanning, Jimmy Bennett.

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., May 9, 2003

Barely breaking a sweat in terms of its effort, Eddie Murphy’s latest, Daddy Day Care, offers a lackluster start to the summer comedy season. This film will appeal to the youngest members of any brood, but is not likely to tickle any funny bones that might have grown out of their Garanimals in any recent decade. Murphy hooks up with his Dr. Dolittle 2 director Steve Carr and first-time screenwriter Geoff Rodkey to produce, well, very little. It’s a concept more than a movie, and its jokes and sight gags seem mostly improvised or dashed off. The filmmakers barely delve into the comic setup’s rich potential for sexual role-play reversal and formulaic upheaval – à la Mr. Mom or countless sitcom episodes on TV. Murphy plays Charlie Hinton, a man unbelievably fired from his job in advertising for his inability to sell a patently unsellable product. His sidekick in daycare, as in advertising, is the dependably amusing Jeff Garlin (Larry David’s sidekick in Curb Your Enthusiasm). The men play these two as fully comfortable in their masculinity, not flustered by their occupational shift to child caretakers. The film’s strife comes in the form of Miss Harridan (Huston), the martinet headmistress of a tony private preschool who objects to the competition presented by the Daddy Day Care start-up. (Huston plays the role with just enough gusto to ensure her continued sideline career of playing witches, evil stepmothers, and harridans in many future children’s films to come.) But even Miss Harridan is a comic villain, who gets her comic comeuppance at the end – that is, the end that comes before the outtake clips that play during the closing credits at the real end of the movie. Steve Zahn, who was so hilarious acting with little tykes in Happy, Texas, is called on for similar service here, although his material isn’t quite as funny in this picture. Poor Regina King, as Charlie’s working wife, has little to do throughout except leave the house. And instead of having his whole career reassignment be treated as a learning experience or growth opportunity, it is handled as the ultimate retort to the man who fired him (comedy utility player Nealon). Across-the-board, the kids are extremely adorable to watch (not an easy thing to pull off) and will appeal to the other kids in the audience who might identify with them and see the story from the kids’ point of view. But looking at this film from any other perspective will give you brain rot.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Steve Carr Films
Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life
Animation and reality collide in this paean to pubescence

Marjorie Baumgarten, Oct. 7, 2016

Movie 43
This raunchy collection of short films drew A-list talent behind and in front of the camera.

Kimberley Jones, Feb. 1, 2013

More by Marjorie Baumgarten
The Last Tree
British migrant coming-of-age drama empathetically explores what it is to belong

July 17, 2020

The Truth
Binoche and Deneuve clash exquisitely as mère et fille

July 3, 2020

KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

Daddy Day Care, Steve Carr, Eddie Murphy, Jeff Garlin, Anjelica Huston, Steve Zahn, Regina King, Kevin Nealon, Lacey Chabert, Khamani Griffin, Shane Baumel, Cesar Flores, Elle Fanning, Jimmy Bennett

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle