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Daddy Day Care is a 2003 American family comedy film starring Eddie Murphy, Jeff Garlin, Steve Zahn, Regina King, and Anjelica Huston. Written by Geoff Rodkey and directed by Steve Carr, it marks Murphy and Carr's second collaboration after Dr. Dolittle 2 (2001). The plot follows two fathers who start a child day care out of the their home after they are laid off from their corporate jobs.

Daddy Day Care
Daddy Day Care movie.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed bySteve Carr
Produced by
Written byGeoff Rodkey
Music byDavid Newman
CinematographySteven Poster
Edited byChristopher Greenbury
Distributed bySony Pictures Releasing
Release date
  • May 9, 2003 (2003-05-09) (United States)
Running time
92 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$60 million[1]
Box office$164.4 million[1]

The film was released in the United States on May 9, 2003, by Columbia Pictures. It received generally negative reviews from critics and grossed $164 million worldwide on a budget of $60 million.


Charles "Charlie" Hinton is a health food product marketing executive for local food company Ample Foods, and his wife Kimberly "Kim" has just gone back to work as a lawyer. They enroll their son Benjamin "Ben", in Chapman Academy, an expensive and over-academic preschool headed by a haughty woman named Gwyneth Harridan. However, on Ben's first day at Chapman, Charlie and his best friend, Phillip "Phil" Ryerson, along with 300 other people, lose their jobs when their boss Jim Fields, the CEO of Ample Foods, shuts down the company's entire health division due to children disliking healthy breakfast cereal made from vegetables. After six weeks' worth of failed attempts to find a new job, Charlie is forced to pull Ben out of Chapman as it is now too expensive and, after a day's worth of failed attempts to find a decent-but-more-affordable alternative, decides to open his very own preschool in his home with the help of Phil, calling it "Daddy Day Care". At first, the local parents are suspicious of men wanting to work with kids, but as Daddy Day Care is cheaper and more child-based than Chapman, the latter begins to lose students. Daddy Day Care opens and Charlie and Phil each begin taking care of several kids, though things do not go smoothly at first due to the kids having several issues and being prone to causing chaos around the house.

Fearing Daddy Day Care will ruin Chapman, Miss Harridan attempts to shut down Daddy Day Care by notifying child services that Charlie and Phil are not following the relevant regulations. Mr. Dan Kubitz, a director of child services, notifies them of the codes that they need to fix, which Charlie and Phil quickly correct. Mr. Kubitz then informs Phil and Charlie that they need another employee to keep an appropriate ratio of children to care providers. Luckily, Marvin, a nerdy former co-worker, visits and after seeing how good he is at entertaining the children, Phil and Charlie ask him about joining. Marvin is initially unsure but then finds himself falling for Kelli, the single mother of one of the kids in the daycare, Dylan, and agrees. Daddy Day Care becomes more popular and attracts more children and parents, much to Miss Harridan's dismay. Charlie, Phil, and Marvin each begin enjoying running Daddy Day Care and taking care of the kids while bonding with them and helping them overcome their issues.

When Miss Harridan, starting to lose her patience with Daddy Day Care, notifies child services again, Mr. Kubitz tells Charlie and Phil that they are beyond the regulated capacity of children for a daycare center in a family home, and in order for Daddy Day Care to legally continue operation, they must kick at least two kids out, or move to a permanent facility elsewhere in the city. Charlie is too reluctant to kick any kids out and decides to instead simply move Daddy Day Care to a bigger space. Marvin tells Charlie and Phil about an available building with potential, but they don't have the money to buy it. They hold a fundraising children's festival called "Rock for Daddy Day Care", which Miss Harridan finds out about. No longer able to compete fairly, she and her hesitant assistant Jennifer "Jenny", infiltrate the festival and sabotage everything by deflating the bouncy castle, releasing the animals from the petting zoo, replacing the face paint with glue, putting cockroaches in the food, and bribing the groundskeeper into turning on the park sprinklers. As a result, Daddy Day Care does not even make a bit of progress in funding. The next day, Jim calls Charlie and offers him and Phil their old jobs back for double their old salaries, accepting Miss Harridan's offer to take the kids back to Chapman for exactly the price of Daddy Day Care if Charlie decides to close Daddy Day Care. Marvin, heartbroken by the closing of the daycare, declines Charlie and Phil's offer to be aboard their marketing panel and decides to sell his things.

Back at the advertising agency for Ample Foods, Charlie and Phil's first assignment is to market a sugary, cotton candy-flavored breakfast cereal to children. While listening to a cereal pitch, Charlie realizes the impact Daddy Day Care has had on Ben and the other children and starts to question the morality of his assignment. He quits his job at Ample Foods and convinces Phil to quit with him. He and Phil pick up Marvin after convincing him not to sell his things, before heading off to Chapman. Once there, Charlie interrupts a student orientation and confronts Miss Harridan, claiming she does not care what children want and that Chapman's child development methods are too extreme. Listing examples of how he has helped the children improve, such as potty-training Max, teaching Becca how to read and Crispin how to be polite to others, as well as helping Ben make new friends, Charlie successfully convinces the children's parents to bring their children back to Daddy Day Care, making it a raging success and earning it the new facility, forcing Chapman out of business. Six months later, Marvin begins a relationship with Kelli, Miss Harridan is demoted to a crossing guard, and Jenny takes a new job at Daddy Day Care (which makes Miss Harridan feel betrayed). The film ends as Miss Harridan is ambushed by a swarm of bees (due to a flower on her vest that Crispin gave her), and tries to shoo them away by waving her stop sign at them, accidentally causing a traffic jam around her in the process.


Cheap Trick appear as themselves at the Rock for Daddy Day Care charity event.


In April 2002, The Hollywood Reporter reported Eddie Murphy was to reteam with Steve Carr, who directed Dr. Dolittle 2, on Daddy Day Care.[2] In June 2002, Anjelica Huston was in negotiations to join the cast.[3] The following month, Revolution Studios set Jeff Garlin, as well as Steve Zahn, to join Murphy in the film.[4]

Shooting began on August 1, 2002 in Los Angeles, California.[5] Production was started on August 5, 2002, and wrapped on November 22, 2002. In December 2002, the film's poster was officially released, with the tagline, D-Day is coming.[6]


Critical receptionEdit

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 27% based on 131 reviews, with an average rating of 4.51/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Daddy Day Care does its job of babysitting the tots. Anyone older will probably be bored."[7] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 39 out of 100, based on 31 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews."[8] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A-" on an A+ to F scale.[9]

Variety's Todd McCarthy called it "Scarcely more amusing than spending 90 minutes in a pre-K classroom" and a "comically undernourished junk food snack".[10]

Box officeEdit

Despite the negative critical ratings, the film was a box office success, grossing over $160 million worldwide based on a $60 million budget.[1] The film was released in the United Kingdom on July 11, 2003, and opened at #3, behind Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle and Bruce Almighty.[11] The next two weekends, the film moved down one place, before finally ending up at #10 on August 1.[12][13][14]


In August 2003, soon after the release of Daddy Day Care, Murphy was rumored to be involved in a sequel film, although he had not signed up for one.[15]

A sequel was released on August 8, 2007, titled Daddy Day Camp, with Cuba Gooding, Jr. replacing Murphy as Charlie Hinton. The film was panned by critics, with a 1% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It won the Razzie Award for "Worst Prequel or Sequel."

In 2018, a second sequel, unrelated to the first two entries, was released direct-to-video. Titled Gran-Daddy Day Care, it starred Reno Wilson (a well-known Murphy impersonator) and Danny Trejo. The plot takes a different twist on the original, as it focuses on a man (Wilson) who decides to open a senior citizen home to raise funds. Unlike the first two films, Gran-Daddy Day Care is adult-oriented to a degree, as it contains drug references and occasional profanity.


  1. ^ a b c d Daddy Day Care at Box Office Mojo
  2. ^ "Eddie Murphy To Take Day Care". April 10, 2002. Retrieved January 8, 2016.
  3. ^ "Anjelica Huston Day Care's Eddie Murphy". June 17, 2002. Retrieved January 8, 2016.
  4. ^ "Steve Zahn, Jeff Garlin Join 'Daddy Day Care'". July 26, 2002. Retrieved January 8, 2016.
  5. ^ Kit, Zorianna (April 10, 2002). "Dolittle 2' team minds 'Day Care' for Revolution". Archived from the original on April 20, 2002. Retrieved September 20, 2019.
  6. ^ "Daddy Day Care (2003)". December 20, 2002. Retrieved January 8, 2016.
  7. ^ "Daddy Day Care (2003)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved May 21, 2019.
  8. ^ Daddy Day Care at Metacritic
  9. ^ "Cinemascore". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on 2018-12-20.
  10. ^ McCarthy, Todd; McCarthy, Todd (4 May 2003). "Daddy Day Care". Variety.
  11. ^ "Weekend box office 11th July 2003 - 13th July 2003". Retrieved 29 December 2016.
  12. ^ "Weekend box office 18th July 2003 - 20th July 2003". Retrieved 29 December 2016.
  13. ^ "Weekend box office 25th July 2003 - 27th July 2003". Retrieved 29 December 2016.
  14. ^ "Weekend box office 1st August 2003 - 3rd August 2003". Retrieved 29 December 2016.
  15. ^ "'Daddy Day Care' sequel planned". August 13, 2003. Archived from the original on 2016-04-23. Retrieved January 8, 2016.

External linksEdit