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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 Academy, 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.
  • Angrish: Because getting kicked hurts.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Chapman Academy; they are very focused at providing good education towards children, going as far as to teach them different languages, marital arts, and even SAT prep. But they (i.e., Miss Harridan) are elitist and condescending towards children, unwilling to deal with or help improve some children's problem behaviors, and the whole tuition is ridiculously expensive. It's no wonder that by the end of the film, every adult with children has enrolled their child at Daddy Day Care, Jenny (Miss Harrigan's mistreated assistant) started happily working for them, and Harridan has lost her job as headmistress, being reduced to working as a crossing guard.
  • 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.
  • Caretaking is Feminine: When Charlie and Phil are first trying to get kids for their daycare, no mothers are willing to give them a chance, suspecting they might be pedophiles or incompetent. Finally one mother signs her child up, stating that men can look after kids too.
  • Censorship by Spelling: Charlie discreetly tells his wife that he lost his J-O-B at the dinner table. Doubly censored when Charlie starts to spell the F-word when Kim shushes him, because they can't risk letting Ben hear even just the spelling of that.
  • 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.
  • Child Care and Babysitting Stories: The film is about two hardworking fathers who got laid off, so they open up a day care center. The two manage to keep the day care business afloat despite hardships with the help of the children who give them ideas on how to improve the center.
  • Daycare Nightmare: It starts out being borderline like this for the dads being unable to control the hyperactive and mischievous children at first, but Charlie and Phil work hard to make it become as good as a dreamland for them.
  • 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.
  • Insult Backfire: Charlie and Phil, initially try to hide their new business from an ex-college named Bruce, but get outed when Bruce's girlfriend/wife (Crispin's mother) calls out to them in public; Bruce starts making fun of them until, Charlie fires back that Bruce is paying them to take care of his kid.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: At first, Ms. Harridan does have a point that Charlie and Phil are inexperienced and unqualified to take care of other people's children, though she's overly rude and snobby about it. However, she loses her one leg to stand on as they actively try to improve and she goes out of her way to sabotage them.
    • Charlie even says that the one thing she was right about was them not providing education for the kids, prompting him and Phil to organize themselves and take care of the kid's behaviors and teach them life skills (potty training, not hitting people, and learning to make friends).
  • 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 (They riot and attack the actors telling them about the cereal), 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. (A "harridan" is an old-fashioned word for an overly critical, scolding, older woman.) Also resembles the name of Miss Hannigan from Annie—another domineering woman in charge of little children.
  • Mistaken for Gay: When advertising Daddy Day Care, a woman mistaking Charlie and Phil for a gay couple and refuses to let her child be taken care by "a bunch of sickos". Fine, her loss
  • 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.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: As Charlie and Phil point out, Ms. Harridan anonymously siccing child services on Daddy Day Care over and over just pushes them to not only adhere to proper child care and safety regulations, but it pushes them to become better child caregivers, which allows Daddy Day Care to compete with her school.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Played for Laughs, but effectively this:
    • Whatever Charlie and Kim saw in the cellar in one of the alleged "daycare" places they check out for Ben at first. It is obvious from their look it is no place for children, let alone their son.
    • Exactly how much Max messed up the bathroom when he said he "missed". Charlie's reaction (which travels all the way to the ceiling) tells you all you need to know (complete with "Psycho" Strings).
  • Not-So-Well-Intentioned Extremist: At first, Ms. Harridan seems like an overly strict and snobby preschool teacher, though sincere in her (rather extreme) belief that children should receive a thorough education and head start on life. As the film goes on, it becomes clear that she's really just a greedy Control Freak determined to wipe out the competition so local parents have no choice but to send their kids to her obscenely expensive school.
  • 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.
  • Prefers Proper Names: Mrs. Harridan calls Charlie "Charles," Kim "Kimberly," and Ben "Benjamin." Jenny seems to be an exception to this rule, as she is always addressed the same.
  • "Psycho" Strings: Accompanies Charlie's reaction of shock when he sees just how badly Max missed in the bathroom at one point.
  • 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.
    • Mr. Kubitz too (see Reasonable Authority Figure). He's not even all that villainous because he makes it clear he's only doing his job and supports Daddy Day Care, and doesn't even want to shut it down even if he has to.
  • 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 what feeding them like this will lead to. Unfazed, Phil unworriedly wonders "About what?" Cue 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 first one they check out after they pull Ben out of Chapman due to the tuition price is in a trailer park...
    Charlie: This is the right address.
    Charlie: Hey, we can at least check it out, you know!
    Kim: Ben is NOT going here!
    Charlie: Looks can be deceiving, let me just go take a look!
    Kim: "Looks can be deceiving"?! We're in a trailer park!
    (Charlie walks out of the car and is greeted by an overweight woman with a cigarette in her mouth and carrying a baby at the same time.)
    Trailer Park Lady: Yeah...???
    Charlie: I might've made a mistake; I'm looking for the preschool.
    Trailer Park Lady: (Putting her cigarette away): Oh-ho, yes, it is!
    (She flips around a "BEWARE OF DOG" sign to reveal that "TOUCH OF EDEN PRESCHOOL" is written on the back.)
    Trailer Park Lady: Welcome to the- (goes into a smoking induced coughing fit). Sorry.... Welcome to the Touch of Eden Preschool, can I help you?
    Charlie: (Realizing that Kim was totally right): Oh, no thank you...
    • The next place on their list is a farmhouse owned by an old couple.
    (Charlie and Kim walk up to an old woman fanning herself...)
    Charlie: Is this the right place???
    Kim: I think so...
    (The old woman gets up to greet Charlie and Kim.)
    Old Woman: Hello...
    Charlie: Hi!
    (The old woman leads Charlie and Kim off the porch)
    Old Woman: We keep the children right around here!
    (Cut to the old woman and her husband opening a cellar door to show where they keep the children. Charlie and Kim look into the cellar, and are shocked by what they see... None of it is shown on camera, but it's obvious they don't want to put Ben in there.)
    Old Woman's Husband: Go ahead! After you, ma'am!
    Charlie: Where'd you get the address to this place?!
    Kim: No, you picked this place!
    Charlie: We should report this to somebody!
    • The third and final stop on their tour is a seemingly normal house...
    Charlie: Alright, now that's what I'm talking about! See, I knew there had to be at least ONE decent place in town!
    Kim: Yeah, it looks alright...
    (A squadron of police cars whizz past Charlie and Kim, parking in front of the house, presumably to arrest the owner of the daycare center.)
    Charlie OH, SHIT! GO!!
    (Charlie and Kim drive off...)
  • 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?

4.91 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / PsychoStrings

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