After the lacklustre performance of his latest product, Eddie Murphy is sacked and forced to set up a day-care scheme at his home to help pay the bills. No, this is not reality - though with the likes of Showtime on his recent CV, Eddie should probably start worrying - but the premise of his latest portion of family 'entertainment'.
Murphy plays Charlie Hinton, a cereal marketeer sacked when his company downsizes its `healthy' division (satire, ladies and gentlemen). Forced to look after his typically cute Hollychild while his go-getting wife restarts her legal career, Hinton hits upon the idea of `Daddy Day Care', much to the annoyance of local pre-school head Anjelica Huston.
From that comedy birthing point, you can pretty much guess what follows. Snobby Huston does her best to shut down Murphy's operation, the kids run amok and every bodily function gag possible is wheeled out like some embarrassed toddler forced to do a trick for their parents' friends.
Despite the seemingly brief running time, the film drags terribly as Eddie learns the true meaning of fatherhood, Huston offers a standard bitchy turn (not a patch on her inventive devilry in The Witches) and yet more hi-lar-ious archetypes pop up to try and garner giggles. Look, children! It's Steve Zahn as another stoned weirdo! And there! The cackling boss who mocks Murphy's choices, thereby ensuring his comeuppance! But by the time The Big Lesson (that you should always take time out to be with your kids... Gee, thanks Tinseltown) dawdles along, everyone over the age of six will have long been squirming in their seats.
One or two chuckleworthy moments aside, the laugh level never quite makes it past potty straining. Nice try, Eddie. But when's Shrek 2 coming out?
The tot-friendly Daddy Day Care might entertain the sprogs. But after the poo gags and crotch-hitting jokes subside, all that's left is a sickly sweet father-son puddle.
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