Eric D. Snider

Daddy Day Care

As a PG-rated family comedy, "Daddy Day Care" is required by law to include jokes about flatulence, pee-pee and poo-poo. If the filmmakers did not include at least one fart joke, the Federal Communications Commission would not allow the film to be released in the United States.

In fairness, "Daddy Day Care" IS about two inept men running a daycare center, and with young kids around, you're bound to have some bodily functions. Would you have them as much, and as frequently, as the first half of this movie does? Maybe. But that's more of an explanation than an excuse, isn't it? I mean, "Psycho" was about a murderer yet had only two murders in it.

At any rate, it is Eddie Murphy, as recently fired advertising executive Charlie, and his Norm Peterson-ish friend Phil (Jeff Garlin), also fired, who begin the titular day care center as a means of making some money. It is also out of necessity, however: Charlie and Phil have young sons who need day care themselves, and the alternatives are either psychotic, frightening or, in the case of Mrs. Harridan's (Anjelica Huston) heavily regimented school, too strict. Surely two fathers could do a better job of taking care of kids themselves.

Then come the jokes involving kicks in the crotch, flatulence, and the obligatory diaper-changing scene where a little boy becomes a pee geyser. These moments are mandatory for a family comedy, as you know if you have entered a movie theater anytime within the past decade. I am tired of them.

But once "Daddy Day Care" gets the bodily function jokes out of its system (as it were), it settles into being a fairly agreeable little movie. Eddie Murphy has a rapport with the kids, and he can still be funny, on occasion, when he finds half-decent material. This stuff, written by first-timer Geoff Rodkey and directed by Steve Carr ("Dr. Dolittle 2"), would have done well to stop being so desperate and to just let comedy flow naturally from the situations (again, as it were).

Grade: C

Rated PG, a little very mild profanity, a lot of potty humor

1 hr., 33 min.

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