A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Daddy Day Care is a 2003 movie in which Eddie Murphy and Jeff Garlin star as two recently laid-off dads who find their true calling when they decide to start their own day care center. The humor is frequently puerile at best, including scenes were kids kick Garlin in the crotch or Murphy in the knees or call them names such as "butthead," to say nothing of the frequent flatulence sound effects and kids belching. There is occasional profanity, including a scene in which Murphy is clearly about to spell out "f--k" to fool his young son. Before their behavior improves while going to "Daddy Day Care," many of the kids engage in questionable behaviors such as drinking bubble soap and burping bubbles, yelling about how a brand of cereal "sucks," and the aforementioned kicking and name-calling of adults, all of which could be imitated by impressionable kids.
What's the story?
Eddie Murphy plays Charlie, who loves his wife, Kim (Regina King), and 4-year-old son, Ben, but has trouble finding time for them due to a high-pressure job in marketing. When his new product, breakfast cereal made from vegetables, is a flop, Charlie and his friend Phil (Jeff Garlin) are laid off. Kim has just started working, so Charlie stays home with Ben. The only preschool in town is the snooty Chamberlin Academy, where children in prep-school uniforms study Freud, Portuguese, and SAT vocabulary words. It is run by mean Ms. Harridan (Anjelica Huston). When Charlie and Phil can't find new jobs, they decide to start Daddy Day Care at Charlie's house.
Is it any good?
DADDY DAY CARE is the sort of movie that Hollywood can churn out in its collective sleep and audiences can watch without really waking up. It's as bland and predicable as a package of Kraft macaroni and cheese but likely to please the same target audience. Its plot gives us 20 minutes for the setup, 30 minutes for everything to go wrong, and 30 minutes for Charlie and Phil to clean up their act and for the bad guys to almost win and then lose, with a few minutes for "what really matters in life is family" lessons along the way. They throw in some diaper humor for those in the audience most recently involved with potty training, some lite rock classics, and an appearance by an aging rock band (Cheap Trick) to make the parents in the audience feel hip, and then of course there are the bloopers and outtakes during the credits.
The result is a movie that is undistinguished and undistinguishable but not too awful. It sags here and there but picks up whenever Steve Zahn appears as an emergency recruit who may be a little spacey (in more senses than one) but who has knack for communicating with kids. But no one else seems to be trying very hard, including the people who spelled Anjelica Houston's name wrong in the credits (or maybe she just didn't want her real name on this movie).
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Charlie learned about what was important to him and how members of their own families show each other that family comes first.
This movie shows kids and adults watching the Three Stooges, and the movie itself shows adults and kids performing similar comedic pratfalls: kicking, falling, making wacky sound effects. What are some other examples of movies and TV shows in which characters fall down and get hurt for comedic effect?
How does this movie show the difficulties families face when one of the parents loses his or her job?
For kids who love to laugh
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