‘Daddy Day Care’ ushers in family-friendly era for Eddie Murphy

Jeff Garlin and Eddie Murphy in 'Daddy Day Care'
Jeff Garlin and Eddie Murphy in ‘Daddy Day Care’

I grew up in the ’80s watching movies like Beverly Hills CopThe Golden Child and Coming to America. Back then, it seemed like there was no one quite as funny as Eddie Murphy thrilling us with his trademark laugh. Then he disappeared, tried to make a go at it in the music industry (big flop) and made several movies most of us didn’t see and quickly forgot if we did.

Lately, it would seem that Eddie is back in the game! With movies like Dr. Doolittle and The Nutty Professor under his belt, Eddie Murphy has found his niche in the funny, fuzzy sort of family films that kiddies and parents can enjoy together. With this in mind, I rented Daddy Day Care, a film where Charlie (Eddie Murphy) and Phil (Jeff Garlin) start a daycare center after being laid off from their high-profile advertising jobs.

Oh, of course, neither of the dads have any experience in child care! And Anjelica Huston plays a scary Miss Harridan, the headmaster of the prestigious (think: expensive and stuffy) Chapman Academy that quickly begins to lose students to Daddy Day Care. Before you know it, a war has broken out between the two daycare centers!

The kids rule in 'Daddy Day Care'
The kids rule in ‘Daddy Day Care’

Huston is terrifying to look at in this film. She must have been channeling Morticia Adams for this role! Luckily, the children are all very adorable and hilarious. Who doesn’t love adorable and hilarious children, I ask you?

The cast of characters includes Charlie’s son (Khamani Griffin), who is happy to spend time with his father until he realizes his father has no idea what he’s doing and must spend too much time disciplining the other children. The other children include “Flash”, who refuses to EVER remove his superhero costume, another little boy who accepts bribes to stop him from screaming at the top of his lungs, and a little girl whose mother urges them not to feed her any junk food but especially, nothing with the ingredient, “Red Dye No. 4”!

Anyone who has children or has ever been around children understands that you do not feed them six different kinds of junk food at lunch time, but that’s part of the hilarity of the film. I found myself wanting to yell, “Oh, no!” while watching the frazzled fathers commit all sorts of errors in childcare. And yet, Charlie refuses to give up despite all odds, even as Miss Harridan continually sabotages his efforts. He eventually realizes he hasn’t a clue what to do with the ever increasing number of children in his daycare center, so they hire Marvin (Steve Zhan), introduced to us as the mail guy at work who loves to smell the paper. He also has a strange understanding of children.

In a world where mothers are debating whether to stay at home or juggle motherhood with the 9 to 5 daily grind, it is both amusing and touching to watch a film where fathers fight the misconception that only women know anything about raising children. Early in the film, Charlie poses the question, “Can’t men do everything that women can do?” A mother reluctant to sign her her child up for Daddy Day Care greets him with a resounding, “No!”

Daddy Day Care is a film that will make you laugh until you find yourself in tears, warm your insides and put your faith back in Eddie Murphy’s ability to do anything to make us all smile. Some naysayers believe Eddie Murphy is doing himself a disservice by starring in family films. They believe that as John Travolta’s career did with Look Who’s Talking, Eddie Murphy’s career has, in fact, flopped.

Well, folks, I’d like to introduce you to the new Eddie Murphy: father and comedian. He has grown up with the rest of us and now he’s making the sort of feel good films you want to watch with your family.

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