"Say goodbye to that old Eddie Murphy we used to love so much."
Again we're forced to re-learn this hoary old movie rule: kids will laugh at anything. Jamming a paper-thin concept with simplistic pratfalls intended to make children giggle is a pretty lazy way to make a movie. But Daddy Day Care is even worse than that. This movie looks like it was written in a month, filmed in a week and conceived with nothing but high-concept laziness in mind. But oh yeah: your kids will giggle at it.There seems to be some unwritten rule of Kiddie Flicks:
They can suck because nobody expects anything from Kiddie Flicks. If a theater full of moppets giggle hysterically, that's really all that matters. Then make a sequel.
Though I'm still a fan, it's getting really tough to defend Eddie Murphy these days. After a year in which he starred in THREE separate 'grownup' comedies, each of which flopped at the box office, it should come as no surprise to see him receding back into Family Flick territory. C'mon, you do the math:
Showtime + I Spy + The Adventures of Pluto Nash = X
The Nutty Professor + Dr. Dolittle + Shrek = Y
X represents what adults think of Eddie Murphy.
Y reflects his popularity with little kids.
That's all fine and good; what's not acceptable is the stunningly amateurish feel of Daddy Day Care - a film that takes a mindlessly one-note concept, beats it into the ground mercilessly, and spends the rest of its running time rehashing old Family Circus material in between long lingering shots of Hollywood's cutest 5-year-olds.
Eddie and Jeff Garlin play two recently unemployed Daddies who start up their own Day Care center. That's what you get for your $9.50. Of course there's a nefarious villain (as played by Anjelica Huston in full-on humiliating "Glenn Close's Cruella De Vil" mode) though her subplot is more cringe-inducing than the actual PLOT plot so the less said about it the better.
In an effort to make parents think they're watching something with more depth than a soiled diaper, the producers jam fistfuls of cloying 'touchy-feely' moments toward the end; the sort of stunningly shallow and manipulatiave schtick that has a wide-eyed tot offering to sell his toys to help save Daddy.
Yeah, that kind of stuff.
I could sit here and list an entire litany of lazy and inane things introduced in this movie (what non-retarded parent DOESN'T know what sugar does to a little kid???) but what's the point? Parents looking for something slight and silly will faithfully trudge into the multiplex, mindlessly mumble "OneAdultThreeKidsDaddyDayCare" and then feel the cascade of poop humor and simpering stupidity that can only come from filmmakers doing the absolute minimum for their easily-earned paychecks.
That Steve Zahn pops up late and manages to earn a few arcane laughs doesn't help the film; it just makes you wish there was more effective humor on display throughout. (Better yet, jettison the howlingly inept Garlin and give Zahn HIS role...not that this would really make it a better film.) Murphy is long past sell-out territory. He's gone so far into Banalsville that it wouldn't surprise me to learn that he was castrated right before shooting began. Never before has the talented comedian seemed so much like a witless automaton and for that reason Daddy Day Care deserves a swat on the ass and a 90-minute timeout.So since Eddie's Grownup movies bomb with a nearly ritualistic reliability, we can expect a whole lot more like Daddy Day Care. The guy who used to be called Sexist and Misogynist and Too Vulgar for TV is now playing second banana to soiled diapers and well-emoting toddlers. Congratulations Hollywood; you've completely disemboweled a truly funny man.