Daddy Day Care
If your job was to promote breakfast cereal to children, which product would you rather be promoting? Lucky Charms, or Veggie-Os? Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the Veggie-O’s guy is going to be out of a job soon, right? Well, Charlie and his co-worker Phil must not have gotten the memo, because they are the guys behind Veggie-Os, and they are devastated to learn that they will be out of a job.
This causes some problems for Charlie. Obviously, this means his wife is going to have to pick up some more hours while he tries to search for a job, and they will have to pull their son, Ben, out of the prestigious Chapman Academy, the Princeton of preschools. At least for the moment. Oh, and since Kim is going to be the sole breadwinner for a while, that means Charlie is going to have to take care of Ben until he can find another daycare facility. That proves to be difficult, though, because Charlie and his wife learn there are a lot off bad daycares out there, and they are not handing over their baby boy to just any crazy.
That’s when it hits Charlie. Lots of parents can’t afford Chapman! And he’s already having to watch his kid. What if he and Phil were to start their own daycare? After all, a Daddy Day Care can’t be too hard.
The main message behind this movie is that kids should be allowed to be kids. Chapman functions like an elite college, as opposed to a creative environment for kids to grow. And in today’s society, where we push kids to be older, faster, until the hit the teen years, at which point we tell them to stay there as long as they can, perhaps this is a needed reminder.
Once the Daddys in Daddy Day Care finally get serious about teaching the kinds they are now watching, we see them try and promote a healthy, happy environment for the kids to grow up in. We see them work with a little girl, teaching her to read, they work to transform a tyrant into a polite little man, and Charlie’s son Ben goes from being an unsocial individual to enjoying interacting with the other kids.
The relationship between Charlie and Ben blossoms in the movie and is cherished. We see them begin to spend time together, engage in numerous bonding rituals (bedtime stories, family hugs, family games) and often proclaim their love for one another. Phil, meanwhile, overcomes some of his antipathy toward the grimier aspects of parenting (diaper changing) and becomes more involved in his son’s life.
Other positive elements include the truths that not all authority figures are spoilsports, parents can always find room for improvement, success requires perseverance and professional status can’t compare to the rewards of being a good parent.
There is much angst in the beginning of the film, by women, about men running a day care center. The guys pitch that they are two committed fathers, trying to make people more comfortable with them, but the phrasing backfires a bit, and someone mistakes them for a gay couple.
I was a bit surprised at the lack of innuendo in the movie, and to my knowledge the only thing that was said was when Marvin (who joins the Daddy Day Care team because of his somewhat childish nature and ability to connect with the kids) becomes star struck by one of the attractive, single moms and, when she asks him out (he mistakenly thinks she wants him to watch her son for her while she goes out on a date… with someone else), says “Dinner, bath, bed? The works?”
As for violence and crude humor… it’s a movie about toddlers, so there is a lot of potty humor and little tyke tempers that flair into kicks and blows of little fists and feet. Phil in particular gets the brunt of both the blows, and the bathroom dealings. The movie begins with the Dads’ incompetence (Ben gets walked into a door, the kids tear pillows apart, jump on furniture, drink bubbles), so you can imagine how wild the kids get, and how bad the behavior can be.
As for language… there is a whole lot of kids saying things like “sucks”, “fart”, “butthead”, and the likes, but no actual language, though there is a handful of misuses of the Lord’s name.
I like the male centered theme in the movie, since hands-off Dads are one of my big pet peeves. And I also like that Charlie makes the important discovery that caring for kids can be much more satisfying than a high-power career. That said, there is an awful lot in the movie that makes me leery of recommending it for people with young children. Kids are very impressionable, and if they see other kids acting like wild animals, and having lots of fun doing so, then it’s not a stretch that we won’t see them do so also. But, that is a call parents will have to make for themselves.