Plot: What’s it about?
Charlie Hinton (Eddie Murphy) and his friend Phil (Jeff Garlin) work in product development at a large food corporation. In order to remain at the top of the food chain, the company needs new and inventive ideas. The new, dazzling products ensure massive sales and in turn, the entire company benefits. Both men have done well for themselves, earning good salaries and providing very nice lifestyles for their families. But one bad idea could change their fortunes, when the two come up with a vegetable flavored cereal. As you can imagine, the idea turns out to be a monumental failure and soon enough, both find themselves fired. This sends shockwaves through their lives, as the families have to adjust to the lowered incomes. The women decide to take action and head off to work, leaving the men home with the kids. This situation is made worse when they are forced to take their children out of Chapman Academy, an expensive private institution. But the dads have a trick up their sleeves, which is to create and run Daddy Day Care, a business in which they watch over the kids of others. The job will be a tough one and who knows if they can hack it, but hard times demand drastic actions. When Daddy Day Care catches on, a rivalry with Chapman Academy kicks in, but which side will emerge on top?
As large as the audience is, you would think more family focused films would be hits, but most fall flat from the start. For every Finding Nemo, several other family pictures tank and wind up covered in dust on rental shelves. But Daddy Day Care managed to break that frequent trend and was a solid hit, pulling in over one hundred million dollars at the box office. I would think the presence of star Eddie Murphy was the main reason for such a large turnout, but word of mouth was also quite strong on this one. I went to see Daddy Day Care myself and while I didn’t see what the fuss was all about, I had a decent time at the movies. Murphy seems held back a lot here, because of the family oriented material, but his comic skill still shines through and when it dims, his gifted costars are there to pick up the slack. I think this is a good movie for kids and parents, but I doubt teens or young adults would find much to like here. A few chuckles here and there, to be sure, but the target audience is obvious with Daddy Day Care. This might not be a guaranteed selection for fans of Murphy either, as he is restrained here and lets his costars pull a lot of the comedic burden at times. Even so, it is a solid choice for those in search of family friendly entertainment, so Columbia’s Special Edition release deserves a passable recommendation.
His career sloped downward for a while, but Eddie Murphy staged a massive comeback and has become one of the highest paid players in the business. He had a few smash hits in succession, which pushed him back toward the top of the heap, raking in the cash, but now he has hit another wall, a thick brick one. His choice in projects has gone in the toilet it would seem, as Murphy has now starred in a rash of flops. Even his established hits yielded sequels that missed with audiences, not to mention his miserable efforts like The Adventures of Pluto Nash. But did Daddy Day Care mark a step back in the right direction? While not as bad as I Spy or Pluto Nash, this movie fails to make full use of Murphy’s screen presence. He is humorous in Daddy Day Care, but seems toned down quite a bit, given the family aimed material. He relies more on his costars than usual, which isn’t bad news, since he is surrounded by solid talents here. I don’t think his choice here was a bad one, but he could have done better. Other films with Murphy include The Golden Child, Beverly Hills Cop, Trading Places, The Nutty Professor, and Showtime. The cast also includes Steve Zahn (National Security, Saving Silverman), Jeff Garlin (Full Frontal, Senseless), and Regina King (Legally Blonde 2, Boyz N The Hood).
Video: How does it look?
Daddy Day Care is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, with a full frame option also included on this disc. As this is a brand new release, I expected a dynamic visual effort, since Columbia is usually up to the task. But as it turns out, the image here is acceptable at best and doesn’t look like a new release. The visuals aren’t that crisp or detailed, but have a decent sharpness, just as not as refined as I expected. The print looks good however, with minimal debris and marks, as well as no grain present. I found colors to be bright and vivid, with no errors to speak of, while contrast is stark and consistent. This is by no means a bad visual presentation, but from such a new movie, I expected a little more.
Audio: How does it sound?
The included Dolby Digital 5.1 option is more than solid, but of course, this is a dialogue driven picture and that means limited surround use. The musical soundtrack sparks the speakers at times, but aside from that, this one is anchored in the front channels. The dialogue is clean and crisp in this mix, with no volume or clarity issues to contend with. As far as dialogue reliant flick soundtracks go, this is a good one and while it isn’t that active, all the elements seem in order. This is a family comedy after all, so we shouldn’t expect that much. This disc also includes a French language track, as well as subtitles in English and French.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes the animated short Early Bloomers, a trio of interactive games, three brief featurettes, a blooper reel, and the film’s theatrical trailer. Not really much, especially for a Special Edition, but those are the breaks.