"Daddy Day Care" looked like the bottom of the barrel for Eddie Murphy, which seemed like quite a feat, given "Adventures of Pluto Nash", "Showtime" and "I Spy". It may be faint (damn near invisible) praise, but I almost have to say that "Daddy Day Care" isn't the disaster it could have been and looked like it would be. This is absolutely not a film, mind you - it's a product - but it goes by fairly smoothly and leaves little in the way of aftertaste.
Murphy plays Charlie, an advertising executive who gets laid off early in the picture (not exactly the stuff of high comedy). While his wife (Regina King) goes off to work, Charlie and co-worker Phil (Jeff Garlin of TV's "Curb Your Enthusiasm") stay at home and start their own day care center, taking care of the local little brats while their parents are away. Putting aside the fact that this could never happen (licensing and what's likely miles of legal work), the picture proceeds just as one would expect: the kids are out-of-control, then the adults figure out what works, the day care where the kids do whatever the hell they want and have fun wins out over the day care where they actually learn something. Mix in some predictable song choices ("Kung Fu Fighting", "Walkin' On Sunshine") and bland cinematography and serve. How this film, which largely takes place on a fairly low-key house set, could cost 60 million is beyond me, as is how the filmmakers managed to extend such a thin story to 97 minutes.
Or something like that, but no matter. The makers behind "Daddy Day Care" certainly did get one thing right: they allow Murphy to take second stage to a series of talented supporting performers. Garlin, amusing against neurotic "Seinfeld" creator Larry David on TV's "Enthusiasm" finds better laughs playing against the many kidlets than Murphy does. Steve Zahn, always wonderful, enters in about halfway through the picture as the day care's assistant - he seems to have been allowed to do whatever he wanted, and it works. Anjelica Huston (yes, that Anjelica Huston) is amusing as the stern headmaster of the competing, high-class day care across town.
Overall, I laughed a couple times, I cringed a whole lot (the picture has the expected amount of bathroom humor) and I felt the harmless picture leaving my memory as it rolled. Yet, it's still no "Pluto Nash", and I suppose I can be thankful for that.
VIDEO: "Daddy Day Care" is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and 1.33:1 full-frame. Both editions are offered on the same side of a dual-layered disc, which each edition accessible from the menu. The anamorphic widescreen presentation was surprisingly average; while I wasn't expecting this to be a visual masterpiece, the picture quality present suffers from some noticable issues. Some somewhat noticable compression artifacts are spotted in several scenes, such as the opening one.
Sharpness and detail are merely okay, as the picture appeared noticably soft at first, then definition started to improve a bit as things went on. Still, the image never looked impressive in terms of sharpness or detail. Colors were generally well-rendered, looking well-saturated and clean.
SOUND: The film's Dolby Digital 5.1 is pretty inconsistent. As expected, this is a dialogue-driven feature for the majority of the running time, with next-to-nothing from the surrounds. Then the film's mixture of popular songs kicks in and kicks in at an unusually and unexpectedly loud volume, requiring the remote to be nearby. Dialogue, however, remained clear and natural-sounding.
EXTRAS: 4 short "making of" featurettes, "Early Bloomer" animated short film (which apparently played before the film theatrically), 3 interactive games and trailers for "Daddy Day Care", "Annie", "Mona Lisa Smile", "Peter Pan", "Radio" and "Master of Disguise".
Final Thoughts: A mediocre, predictable feature that manages a chuckle or two, "Daddy Day Care" isn't as bad as it could have been, yet it's still entirely forgettable. Columbia/Tristar's DVD offers decent video quality, average sound and a few supplements. At most a rental for kids who are interested.