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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, a very academic pre-school, 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 think they're homosexual, 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:

  • Adorkable: Marvin
  • 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.
  • Angrish: Because getting kicked hurts.
  • Bee Afraid: Phil poking the hornet's nest with a broomstick goes right into Too Dumb to Live territory... with hilarious results for the onscreen kids watching safely indoors.
  • Big Bad: Ms. Harridan, who wants to force Daddy Day Care out of business because she simply doesn't want the competition.
  • 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.
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  • 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. It's too soon.
  • Cute Bruiser: Crispin, when he was first enrolled.
  • Double Standard: The reason that a few moms are initially reluctant 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.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Played with, however, we do see this during the montage where Charlie and his wife try to find a suitable daycare for Marvin, finding a relatively normal setting before cops suddenly show up
  • Gory Discretion Shot: While it's not really "gore" (though it is squicky), we don't see exactly how much Max messed up the bathroom, but we do get Charlie's reaction to it.
  • 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.
  • Jump Cut: Inverted. A scene switches from bedlam to sleeping children.
  • 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 meet a geek named Marvin and hire him 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.
  • 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.
  • Title Drop: Later on in the movie, when the Daddy Day Care business starts up.
  • 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. VERY, VERY BADLY.
  • 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.


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