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COLUMBIA TRISTAR

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Steve Carr
Cast:
Eddie Murphy, Regina King, Jeff Garlin, Anjelica Huston, Steve Zahn, Khamani Griffin, Laura Kightlinger, Lacey Chabert, Kevin Nealon, Siobhan Fallon Hogan, Leila Arcieri, Lisa Edelstein
Writing Credits:
Geoff Rodkey

Tagline:
D-Day Is Coming.

Synopsis:
Daddy Day Care is the hilarious comedy about kids ruling the roost! When ad execs Charlie (Eddie Murphy - Dr. Dolittle, Shrek) and Phil (Curb Your Enthusiasm's Jeff Garlin) lose their jobs trying to sell a veggie-flavored breakfast cereal, their wives head off to work. But when they realize they can't afford to keep their kids at the fancy Chapman Academy, run by evil Miss Haridan (The Addams Family's Anjelica Huston), Charlie and Phil become the proprietors of Daddy Day Care. Little do these two Mr. Moms realize that they have just begun their own adventures in babysitting! Daddy Day Care's excellent supporting cast includes Steve Zahn (National Security), Regina King (Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde) and Kevin Nealon (Anger Management).

Box Office:
Budget $60 million.
Opening Weekend
$27.623 million on 3370 screens.
Domestic Gross
$103.551 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
Fullscreen 1.33:1
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby 2.0
Subtitles:
English
French
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 92 min.
Price: $27.94
Release Date: 9/23/2003

Bonus:
• “Meet the Kids of Daddy Day Care” Featurette
• “Quiet On the Set!” Featurette
• “Good Morning, Eddie Murphy!” Featurette
• “What Did That Kid Say?” Featurette
• “Name the Noise Maker” Game
• “Kid Card Match Up” Game
• “Odd One Out” Game
• Blooper Reel
• “Early Bloomers” Animated Short
• Theatrical Trailers


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RELATED REVIEWS


Daddy Day Care: Special Edition (2003)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 22, 2003)

20 years ago, Eddie Murphy’s star was on the rise. He’d hit big on the silver screen with efforts like 48 Hours and Trading Places, and his concert video Delirious positioned him as the hottest and most popular stand-up comic in the land.

20 years ago, another comedian turned actor had a success with an ode to male domesticity. Michael Keaton starred in the hit Mr. Mom, a comical tale of a father who loses his job and stays home to take card of the kids while his wife goes out and works. That angle seemed fresh back then, but doesn’t shine now.

20 years ago, no one ever would’ve guessed that Murphy would become the star of many family-friendly comedies. Via flicks like Dr. Dolittle 2, Murphy has earned some good cash through these lighter efforts. No one also could have guessed he’d score another moderate hit with 2003’s Daddy Day Care, a movie that essentially remakes Mr. Mom.

In Daddy, Murphy plays Charlie Hinton, a driven workaholic who doesn’t pay enough attention to his young son Ben (Khamani Griffin). His wife Kim (Regina King) plans to head back to work, so they need to put Ben in day care. They enroll him at the expensive Chapman Academy, “the Marine Corps of day care” headed by rigid headmistress Miss Harridan (Anjelica Huston).

When a new breakfast cereal called “Veggie-O’s” flops, Charlie loses his high paying job at a food company. His partner Phil (Jeff Garlin) also gets the boot. Charlie can’t find a new job, so they need to pull Ben from Chapman due to the cost. Because they can’t locate another viable day care option, Charlie decides to open his own preschool to fill the local void. Phil agrees to work with him, and they start to sign up kids.

Things start poorly, but the guys slowly start to get a grip on things. Matters improve when they hire Marvin (Steve Zahn), the mail boy at their old job, as a third provider. He helps them shape up their act and Charlie really starts to get into his new job. Unfortunately, as their business grows, Miss Harridan becomes more threatened, and she acts to sabotage her competition.

Will Miss Harridan ruin the guys? If you actually doubt the answer to that question, you don’t get out much. Daddy Day Care provides no surprises whatsoever as it takes a simple path toward the inevitable.

I don’t necessarily regard that as a bad thing; just because a movie’s predictable doesn’t mean it has to be bad. It’s all in the execution, and that’s where Daddy falls flat. It suffers from every conceivable cliché and doesn’t bring anything new or creative to the table.

If the movie presented some spark, I could forgive its insanely predictable story. Unfortunately, it lacks anything to make it lively or engaging. The cast of kids grates on the viewer pretty quickly. Each one plays out some one-dimensional role, and each one does so in manner that screams “Hollywood kid!” The tots feel less like real children and more like idealized recruits from central casting.

At least Murphy seems a bit more engaged than in recent duds like I-Spy or Pluto Nash. Perhaps that’s because he knew the antics of the kiddies would entertain so much of the target audience that it took the pressure off of him to carry the film. He comes across as somewhat more relaxed and involved than usual, though this doesn’t result in many laughs or much entertainment.

The flick’s gags may work well with an audience of youngsters, but I found the relentless parade of slapstick and potty humor to get old really quickly. It feels like anytime the film nears a lull – which is often – we get someone farting or being injured in a comic way. The usual recipient is Garlin, who presents one of the least likable and endearing personalities I’ve seen in a while. Other than his spooky resemblance to George Wendt, the guy doesn’t do much to win over the audience.

Essentially little more than a tedious combination of violent gags, potty jokes, and cute mugging from its unnaturally adorable youngsters, Daddy Day Care presents a weak flick. Virtually none of the film’s gags provoke laughs, and the easy moralizing and lessons learned make it painful to watch at times.


The DVD Grades: Picture C+/ Audio C+/ Bonus C-

Daddy Day Care appears in both an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 and in a fullscreen version on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the widescreen image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Only the letterboxed picture was reviewed for this article. Daddy never looked bad, but it showed a few more problems than I expected of a brand-new flick.

For the most part, sharpness seemed good. Most of the movie came across as reasonably detailed and well defined. However, wider shots occasionally looked a bit soft and less distinct than I’d like. Jagged edges presented no concerns, but some light shimmering showed up, and I also noticed mild edge enhancement periodically. As for print flaws, I saw a few bits of grit, and some moderate artifacting negatively affected much of the flick.

Daddy featured a natural palette that mostly looked fine. At times the colors came across as somewhat oversaturated and muddy, but those instances didn’t show up too frequently. Mostly the tones were accurate and concise. Black levels were dense and deep, but shadows tended to be slightly too heavy. Considering that the flick featured a dark-skinned actor in the lead, the film seemed poorly lit and made it tough to make out Murphy at times. Overall, the movie remained watchable and seemed generally positive, but it looked less than stellar.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Daddy Day Care was similarly decent but unexceptional. However, I didn’t expect much from a flick of this sort, and the mix served the story acceptably well. The soundfield heavily emphasized the front channels. Music presented good stereo imaging, and effects popped up from the sides well enough to create a decent sense of environment. Not a lot happened, though. Occasionally elements moved from side to side, but mostly the track simply showed general ambience. The surrounds mostly just reinforced the front speakers and added almost no unique audio.

The quality of the sound was fairly good. Speech came across as natural and distinct, and I noticed no issues connected to edginess or intelligibility. Effects played a small role in the proceedings, but they seemed acceptably accurate and clear. They made occasional use of the subwoofer; for instance, Murphy’s reaction to a soiled bathroom brought the bass to life nicely. Unfortunately, dynamics for the music seemed more limited. The score and songs appeared somewhat thin and without much range. Those elements sounded clean but too thin. As a whole, the soundtrack of Daddy Day Care was fairly average.

Daddy Day Care presents a series of extras that seemed aimed at the family audience. That means no audio commentary, and we start with a new animated short called Early Bloomer. This runs three minutes and 42 seconds and tells the tale of a tadpole who becomes embarrassed when he sprouts legs before his friends do. It’s cute but not much more.

After this we encounter four separate featurettes. Good Morning, Eddie Murphy! fills a quick three minutes and 12 seconds as it mixes shots from the set with soundbites from director Steve Carr, producer John Davis, and actors Murphy, Hailey Johnson, Elle Fanning, Felix Achille, Connor Carmody, Jimmy Bennett, Cesar Flores, Khamani Griffin, Max Burkholder, and Arthur Young. Some of the behind the scenes bits seem moderately useful, but the cutesy piece relies too much on comments from the kids, especially since it’s tough to understand them most of the time.

Next we get Meet the Kids of Daddy Day Care, a six-minute and 17-second glimpse at the young cast. This uses the same format as the prior piece and includes remarks from Griffin, Bennett, Burkholder, Shane Baumel, Johnson, Achille, Fanning, Flores, and Young. We learn little factoids about each of the kids here. If you just can’t get enough of these little nippers, you’ll dig this piece. Since I got more than enough of them during the flick, I didn’t care for this program.

Called Quiet On the Set!, the third featurette lasts five minutes, 47 seconds as it presents a look at the day-to-day production. It includes statements from Carr, executive producer Heidi Santelli, and actors Murphy, Jeff Garlin, Anjelica Huston, Steve Zahn, Regina King, Fanning, Johnson, Flores, Baumel, Griffin and Achille. We get a few decent notes about the challenges of young kids on the set, and those elements add some useful material. However, too much of the piece follows the same cutesy tone of the prior pieces, and it seems less than stellar.

Okay, I’m getting really sick of these tots. What Did That Kid Say? runs three minutes, 20 seconds as we hear from producer John Davis and actors Johnson, Young, Fanning, Flores, Burkholder, Baumel, and Griffin. They babble about how happy they are to be “movie stars” and... well, I don’t know what else. In a collection of generally annoying featurettes, this one’s easily the most irritating.

Next we find three different games. Name the Noise Maker presents a sound and has you pick the character most likely to be associated with it. These are pretty easy if you’ve seen the flick. No reward of any kind comes with completion of the contest; it just ends and sends you back to the “Games” menu.

After this comes Kid Card Match Up. This has you pair up the film’s kids with items associated with their characters. I thought it was a little trickier than “Noise Maker”, as I didn’t pay that much attention to the various kids’ pets. Again, completion simply dumps you back at the menu screen.

The final game, Odd One Out shows screens with four pictures of the kids in the midst of various activities. One photo doesn’t match up with the others, so you need to pick that one. It’s simple and not very entertaining. Unsurprisingly, we still get no prize for completion here.

The disc concludes with a couple of small pieces. In the trailers area, we find ads for Daddy Day Care, Annie, Matilda, Mona Lisa Smile, Peter Pan, Radio, and The Master of Disguise. A two-minute and 27-second Bloopers Reel finishes things. This simply presents the outtakes that already appear during the end credits. Actually, it just repeats the end credits in exactly the same format; dopily, it doesn’t make them larger and more visible.

I like Eddie Murphy and am pleased when his flicks succeed due to my personal affection for his past work. However, that doesn’t mean I have to like the results of his labors, and Daddy Day Care provides one of his weaker vehicles. He takes a backseat to a relentlessly cloying and annoying cast of tots, and the film never goes anywhere creative or compelling. The DVD offers surprisingly mediocre picture and sound with a bland set of extras. Families with young kids or the easily amused may care for Daddy Day Care, but otherwise I can’t recommend this dud.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.6944 Stars Number of Votes: 36
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