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IN SHORT: The cleanest Eddie Murphy comedy yet . . . [Rated PG for Language. 93 minutes]
. . . well except for the jokes about kids in the bathroom but those, technically, aren't Eddie's jokes <g>
The one question that nagged at the remnants of what we are told is our brain, as we walked away from a screening of Daddy Day Care was this: Does Eddie Murphy have kids young enough to know that daddy makes movies, but too young to be allowed to actually see any of them? It's a logical question and the movie Murphy has come up with, if indeed that is the case, is fine family flick that will amuse anyone over the age of two.
Only one rule that actors are taught is set in stone: never play opposite children or dogs. There are no dogs in Daddy Day Care, and that goes for the jokes, too. Considering that we expected a good ninety minutes of jokes of by and about Numbers One and Two, the script by Geoff Rodkey is remarkably conservative. Most of the down and dirty stuff, so to speak, is kept off screen. We can't say the same for fart jokes but it's a fair swap, considering the number of bodily function not yet fully controlled by three and four year old bodies -- just about all of which get their fair turn at whacking at your funny bone.
Charlie (Eddie Murphy) and Phil work (Jeff Garlin), or worked, in the high pressure world of marketing sugar to kids in the guise of nutritional sustenance. Yep, they're the guys responsible for developing Super Sweet Sugary Breakfast Snacks under whatever cute kidlet friendly name they can come up with. And, yes, they're the first to go when their latest can't miss brainchild, called Veggie-O's because of its derivation from carrots and broccoli, misses by a zillion miles. With that flameout comes 300 pink slips at the company, and Charlie and Phil find themselves stuck at home.
Charlie's wife Kim (Regina King) is just beginning her career as a lawyer and the day care facility that they were going to leave their 4 year old son Ben (Khamani Griffin) in, run by Kommandant, er, Miss Gwyneth Harridan (Anjelica Huston), is financially out of the question. The simple solution for both Charlie and Phil, both after six weeks of not being able to find a job, is to open their own child care facility. After all, "how hard could it be? It's not like it's rocket science!"
We can hear the eyes of all the parental units out in Internet-land rolling in their sockets. Even better will be their knowledgeable reactions when they discover that Murphy's character, who deeply loves his exceptionally shy son, has almost no valuable parenting skills and Garlin's character has a severe problem with the mechanics of toilet training. Stop groaning --- track back three or so paragraphs and then come on back to continue the review. We'll wait.
Phil's son Max (Max Burkholder) is the second kidlet to wreak havoc on the Hinton house and pretty soon, there are a dozen. Some are precocious. Some never outgrew their terrible twos. At least one believes he is Wally West, aka The Flash, and hasn't taken the costume off since Halloween. Simply? Most of these kids have horrible parents -- but that's a whole 'nother movie in and of itself... For all the comic abilities of Mr. Murphy, the best written gag in the movie is allocated to Steve Zahn as Marvin, formerly the mailroom guy at the corporation where Charlie and Phil worked. When the State, at the prodding of of Miss Harridan, starts making the Day Care dads miserable, it always seems to be Marvin who comes up with a way to help save the day. A lot of it involves his grown up obsession with comics and Star Trek (and to say any more than that would ruin the joke).
The jokes are evenly paced. There are enough visual gags that the smallest kidlets will have something to make 'em giggle and, be honest, no one makes a face like Eddie Murphy does. Take the kids. Buy too much popcorn.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Daddy Day Care, he would have paid . . .
Murphy has done funnier movies but, and this is a major but, all of 'em have been allowed the playground of the sexual innuendo to romp in. No such luck in a strongly family oriented comedy and more than enough luck to have the majority of our screening audience -- tons of parents and kidlets -- applauding at the end credits.We weren't among them, but we enjoyed Daddy Day Care just the same.
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