More noise than signal

Daddy Day Care

This review has been ‘repurposed’ from my other site, theOneliner.com

It’s taken me some time to whip up the enthusiasm for writing this review not because Daddy Day Care is a particularly bad film, contrary to my expectations, but because it’s a fairly uninspired film. There just isn’t a lot to talk about and even less to think about in what is essentially another Eddie Murphy vehicle.

Critics seems to have the knives out for old Eddie for some reason. Fair enough, he’s dropped a few stinkers over the course of his career but there seems to be a movement to crucify him for straying into more family friendly territory eschewing the potty-mouthed stand up of his youth. Witness the hatchet job carried out on the perfectly acceptable I Spy, for example. Daddy Day Care is a more worthy recipient of a beating, but it’s hardly the most offensive film you’ll ever see.

Charlie Hinton (Murphy) is an executive with a thankless task, promoting a prototype cereal named Veggie-O’s. It’s easy to sell sugar coated sugar balls to kids for breakfast, but the healthy, carrot and broccoli based alternative is finding little favour with kids, and presumably anyone with taste buds. As a result of this failure the entire health foods division is canned, taking with it Charlie’s best mate Phil (Jeff Garlin) and mail delivery boy Marvin (Steve Zahn).

With a wife Kim (Regina King) and a young boy Ben (Khamani Griffin) to support, money soon gets tight even with Kim’s new job as seemingly the only poorly paid lawyer in the world apart from Petrocelli. Unable to afford Ben’s expensive, stuffy day-care centre where pre-school kids are taught 4 different languages, Charlie becomes a stay at home dad, taking care of his son until he has a great idea. If he can cope with one kid, why not open up a day-care centre in his home to help with the bills?

After a shaky start he soon has a house full of largely interchangeable nippers, providing all of the hijinks that he and Phil can handle. They do the usual things to keep them occupied, drawing, painting, wrestling in giant carrot and broccoli suits, that sort of thing. One of the stranger points is that Charlie’s idea of basically let the kids run riot is better than their arch-enemy Mrs. Harridan’s (Anjelica Huston) undoubtedly impressive schooling techniques. Eventually their class grows so much that a third helper must be found, and who better than the childlike and Star Trek obsessed Marvin?

Harridan doesn’t take the leeching of business away lightly, and launches a counter offensive that is doomed to failure, but not before some cheap angst over funding for a bigger, better equipped facility prompts Phil and Charlie to wonder if they’re not better off jacking the whole thing in and returning to their old jobs. They don’t, and everything turns up roses. Hoorah.

This is irrelevant. The only thing really worth talking about in bubblegum comedies like this is ‘Is it funny’? The answer is yeah, sometimes. Nothing remotely groundbreaking, and probably nothing you haven’t seen before but for the most part it’s well executed. Much as i like to pretend I’m an intellectual I still find people in carrot suits repeatedly falling over funny, and Steve Zahn does it better than most. The fun mercilessly pokes fun at Trekkies, rightly lambasting the speaking of Klingon but it does allow for a nice gag about Marvin’s puppet show for the kids, a version of Wrath Of Kahn.

Character development is rarely expected in this fare and none is delivered, and you’d be hard pushed telling any of the kids apart. The ending has the all too familiar reek of Gorgonzola, but we’ve surely become accustomed to that by now. If you look carefully, or even casually come to think of it, you’ll find things here to hate and get your panties in a bunch over. I really didn’t find it offensive enough to start hunting and remained relatively amused in a brainless, shallow way throughout.

There’s nothing especially good or bad here. The performances are acceptable if unremarkable, the kids aren’t annoying, the story relatively plausible, the gags relatively decent. There are better comedies out there for sure, and even better comedies showing on the cinema screens next to this, but this is a decent way to pass the time that’ll keep the kids amused at the same time as being bearable for Mum & Dad.

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