out of 4
All-Reviews.com Movie/Video Review
Daddy Day Care
Review by Harvey Karten
2 stars out of 4
A recent study publicized by the New York Times indicates
that mothers should not feel guilty if they go to work and drop
their kids off at pre-school.. A good day-care center not only
provides equivalence with maternal love: the young ones may
actually benefit from the experience. They socialize, they're not
facing their mothers' wrath 24-7, and since children just wanna
have fun, they may actually enjoy being away from home. What
makes a good day-care center? Should 3-year-olds be
preparing for their S.A.T's as some yuppie parents desire?
Should they be treated as small adults--or as children? Steve
Carr's "Daddy Day-Care" offers the audience a debate, if you
will, pointing out the elusive charms of a tough, academic-based
institution against the counterpoint of a fun place. Guess who
comes out on top?
When Charlie (Eddie Murphy) loses his affluent work as an
ad-maker for vegetable-based cereal when a whole division
shuts down, he is forced to allow his lawyer wife (Regina King)
to wear the pants. Becoming bored with staying at home with
his adorable three-year-old, Ben (Khamani Griffin), he gets
together with a fellow downsizee, Phil (Jeff Garlin), opening up a
day-care center in the neighborhood. They hope to catch those
parents who cannot afford the uptight school run by a Nurse
Ratched-like headmistress, Miss Haridan (Anjelica Huston).
With no experience in the business save for having his own
child, Charlie's efforts are heading south, as his charges run
around his house chaotically. Once Charlie stops treating his
clients as little adults, e.g. by reading them a manifesto as
though they were on the board of directors of Enron
Corporation, and relates to them on their own terms with the
help of Star Trek fan Marvin (Steve Zahn), the children flourish.
Fearing the brisk competition, Miss Haridan takes aggressive
action to put Charlie and Phil and Marvin out of business.
When Roger Ebert downsized the movie, holding that the
chaos wrought by Daddy Day-Care is appalling especially when
compared to what he considers the good school run by Haridan,
he misses a point. Sure, there was anarchy in the beginning,
and what's more Charlie is brave to use his own home at first to
house the youngsters. But later, as the children shape up one
learning to read without the Haridan pressure, one willing to
take off his Flash costume for the first time in months, and his
own son Ben finally making friends Charlie proves that his
method is the one that works, affording fun for the kiddies and
developmental progress as well.
There's nothing wholly original in the predictable plot, which
bears a sugary ending, but Murphy stages a comeback from his
disastrous "The Adventures of Pluto Nash" and there are
enough jokes (albeit too many potty gags) to transcend any
dependence on childhood adorability to work the audience.
Copyright © 2003 Harvey Karten
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