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Film / Daddy Day Care

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Daddy Day Care is a 2003 American comedy film, directed by Steve Carr and starring Eddie Murphy.

The plot follows Charlie Hinton (Murphy), a busy working father and his wife, Kim (Regina King) has just gone back to work as a lawyer. They enroll their son, Ben, in the Chapman Academy, an expensive and very academic-focused preschool, headed by Mrs. Harridan (Anjelica Huston). Soon after, Charlie is laid off. In need of money, he and Kim must pull Ben out of Chapman as the cost is far too high, but they cannot find a suitable alternative. Charlie decides to open up a day care center, "Daddy Day Care" with the help of his best friend Phil Ryerson (Jeff Garlin), who was also laid off.

At first the local moms are suspicious of men wanting to work with children (mainly because they assume they're homosexuals, pedophiles, or just plain incompetent). But as "Daddy Day Care" is cheaper and more child-centered than the Academy, the latter begins to lose popularity. Mrs. Harridan attempts to shut down Daddy Day Care by notifying Child Services that that Charlie and Phil are not following the regulations. The two now have to work tooth-and-nail to keep the place under regulation or their day care is shut down.


Has two loosely-associated sequels, Daddy Day Camp and Grand-Daddy Day Care.

This film provides examples of:

  • Adults Are Useless: All the children's parents are "boobs" under Harridan's foot. They snap out of it and stick up for themselves and their children once Charlie gives them a wake-up call.
  • Alpha Bitch: Ms. Harridan is this toward Charlie and Phil, which doubles with her being the headmistress of the rivaling Chapman Academy.
  • Analogy Backfire: Whenever she gives the orientation for Chapman Accademy, Miss Harridan gives an analogy that the students are like a vine that, with hard work and supervision, can climb higher and higher to its full potential. The second time Charlie hears this speech, he calls out "That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard." While it may sound good on paper, he tells the other parents Miss Harridan is basically makes it sound like their kids are plants for her to prune and weed, rather than actual children to raise and nurture.
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  • Angrish: Because getting kicked hurts.
  • Big Bad: Ms. Harridan, who wants to force Daddy Day Care out of business because she simply doesn't want the competition.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: After their first disastrous day running Daddy Day Care, each daddy takes a jab at the other's parenting skills. Charlie calls out Phil on being too scared of potty-training his own son that he's allowed Max to think the whole purpose is to aim. On the other hand, Phil points out Charlie is no better, neglecting that Ben wants more out of his father than "rocket ship", which even he can see he doesn't enjoy as much as Charlie thinks.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Various kids are this at first (especially Crispin) but as Charlie and Phil get more experience taking care of them Character Development leads to them being more well-behaved, Crispin growing into a model of good child behavior, and even Tony taking off his costume.
  • Censorship by Spelling: Charlie discreetly tells his wife that he lost his J-O-B at the dinner table.
  • Change the Uncomfortable Subject: One of the girls wants to know where babies come from. If Charlie dodging the question is any indication, it's too soon.
  • Cute Bruiser: Crispin, when he was first enrolled.
  • Discretion Shot: We don't see exactly how much Max messed up the bathroom, but we do get Charlie's reaction to it. And considering he looked at the ceiling at one point... it's pretty bad.
  • Double Standard: The reason that a few moms are initially reluctant to entrust the care of their children to the main characters. They try to get support from another guy by asking if he thinks men can do anything a woman can, but he bluntly says no.
  • Hate Sink: Miss Harridan is an arrogant, fun-hating snob who actively schemes to have Daddy Day Care taken down.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Charlie and Phil. Once Marvin joins the Daddy Day Care, it is Charlie, Phil and Marvin.
  • House Husband: Charlie and Phil slowly have to learn how to become this while running their day-care center.
  • I Ate WHAT?!: Charlie and Phil try on Veggie-Os on the control group of children who don't know what it is. The children have the bad luck of eating it up just as the mascots reveal it's a vegetable cereal. Naturally, they spit it out.
  • Jump Cut: Inverted. A scene switches from bedlam to sleeping children.
  • Kids Hate Vegetables: Charlie Hinton comes up with a vegetable-flavoured cereal called Veggie O's. During focus group testing, it's apparent that the kids do NOT like it, causing the company's entire health division (which Charlie is a part of) to be shut down.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Tony's problem when he joined Daddy Day Care; he believes he's The Flash, and has worn his Halloween costume for weeks. When he ditches the costume, Charlie and Phil have no idea who he is at first.
  • Meaningful Name: Ms. Harridan, who is as her name would state.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Jenny, Ms. Harridan's assistant, takes a lot of crap from her boss. Is it really that surprising when she jumps ship for Daddy Day Care in the end?
  • Musicalis Interruptus: Used to bookend a trip to the bathroom and a kick to the crotch.
  • Nerds Speak Klingon: One of the kids inexplicably speaks only in Klingon. Charlie and Phil hire their geek ex-colleague Marvin as a translator.
  • Product Placement: Becca holds a cell phone and repeatedly asks "Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now?"
  • Potty Failure: Played with. Max consistently makes it to the bathroom on time, but he can't aim. However, The Daddy Day Care staff is eventually able to potty train him. The reason this problem came to be is because Phil had no Earthly idea how to potty-train Max prior to Daddy Day Care, and was too cowardly to do so ever since a rather disastrous and truly embarrassing bathroom incident with a baby Max. Phil tried to tell his lover at the time he simply couldn't do it, but she insisted Phil change Max's diaper.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Implied with Jenny, she follows Miss Harridan’s orders without question even though she is treated as nothing more then a lackey. However she makes it clear that she finds working at Daddy Day Care enjoyable after Miss Harridan gets shut down, and she takes a job there, with no remorse towards jumping ship.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!:
    • Charlie gets his office job back, then quits.
    • Miss Harridan's assistant, Jenny ends up jumping ship to Daddy Day Care after Harridan loses her job.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Mr. Kubitz, the child services official Ms. Harridan keeps trying to sic on Charlie and Phil. He holds no ill will against the fathers, and constantly reminds him that he is only doing his job, giving them plenty of time to meet the day care regulations and even commends them on their success.
  • Rules Lawyer: The titular establishment is constantly threatened by a lack of adherence to child care regulations, no thanks to Ms. Harridan. However, they do make an effort to resolve these issues.
  • Scary Stinging Swarm:
  • Shout-Out: There are several, mostly to Star Trek, due to Marvin's love of the series.
  • Smug Snake: Ms. Harridan schemes to get rid of Daddy Day Care, but all her attempts fail.
  • Take Our Word for It: We never actually see how bad Max’s accident in the bathroom was. Judging by Charlie’s reaction though, it isn’t a pretty sight.
  • Title Drop: Later on in the movie, when the Daddy Day Care business starts up.
  • Tempting Fate: During Daddy Day Care's first lunch time, the children are served sweets and junkfood. Charlie is rightly worried about how feeding them like this will lead to. Unfazed, Phil unworriedly wonders "Like what?" Cut a Jump Cut to the children answering his question by going on a sugar high, running around the household and getting into as much mischief as humanly possible.
  • Terrible Interviewees Montage: More like a terrible touring montage, but while trying to find a day-care center for Charlie's son, he and his wife go through this. Chapman Academy ends up looking like the best option, despite its overly-formal setting and outrageous prices.
  • The Talk: One of the kids wants to hear about this; see Change The Uncomfortable Subject above.
  • Toilet Humor: Max's current issue when signed up for Daddy Day Care. He misses. Badly. As Charlie would go on to find out.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Miss Harridan, as all the parents are under her influence.
  • When You Coming Home, Dad?: When Charlie has his office job in the marketing sector, he doesn't have a lot of time to spend at home with his son, Ben, and that makes Ben sad. While Daddy Day Care is running, Ben draws a picture of himself with his father, showing how much Daddy Day Care means to him.


Video Example(s):


"I missed."

Charlie Hinton gawks in horror at a catastrophic case of PottyFailure.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

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Main / PsychoStrings

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