America's raunchiest comedian has gone soft and sold himself out as a Bill Cosby wannabe with none of that Leonard Part VI actor's character or charm. Yeah, Eddie Murphy was funny once. That's become the mantra for all his ex-fans, some of whom still cling to the hope that he may return to the 80's revolutionary he once was. Daddy Day Care, while not wholly painful itself, is just another step down that long slippery path of giving up.
Eddie Murphy plays a guy whose name, lets face it, we'll all forget and refer to as "the guy Eddie Murphy played in Daddy Day Care" five minutes after we walk out of the theater. That is if you're even talking about Daddy Day Care five minutes after you've seen it, something which I highly doubt. So lets call the character by a name you'll remember: Eddie Murphy. Eddie Murphy is a high paid marketing executive. He works late, isn't home much, and drives a very nice Mercedes. His wife, tired of staying at home with their kid and driving a mini-van, throws mini-Eddie in a prissy day care center so she can trot off to work while the school's arrogant headmistress (Anjelica Huston) raises their son.
Then, disaster strikes. Eddie and his partner are fired. Economic times keep jobs scarce, leaving both Eddie and his friend stuck at home sucking on unemployment. Forced to take his son out of day care, Murphy tries to cope with having to actually raise him by turning childcare into a money making proposition. They call it "Daddy Day Care". Because his brain is smaller and his living standards not nearly so posh, Eddie's day care center is cheaper than the prissy competition's. As a result, eventually his fledging business becomes a wild success. Of course no one wants to let Eddie and his partner watch their kids at first because they are men, and men are only good at tweaking out cars to shoot flames from the engine. Reading stories and pouring chocolate milk is way out of our usual scope. But hey this is Eddie Murphy! His fame and goofy laugh win desperate parents over.
Daddy Day Care has a few fairly hilarious moments, surprising in what is basically a VERY PG, lukewarm, overly safe, pig trough of a comedy. Most of the funniest moments come from Steve Zahn, a personal favorite of mine who seems to be spending his career giving savant-like performances in repeatedly bad films. But other than what Zahn brings to the table, Daddy Day Care is desperately insignificant, though it has made a lot of money for an non-animated Eddie Murphy movie. Credit to Murphy, Zahn, and the cuddly fat guy from HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" for keeping me mostly awake. Now that he's made some live action money, maybe Eddie can get back to what he's best at: Animated donkeys.
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