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Daddy Day Care
Theatrical release poster
Directed bySteve Carr
Written byGeoff Rodkey
Produced by
CinematographySteven Poster
Edited byChristopher Greenbury
Music byDavid Newman
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]

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 their home after they are laid off from their corporate jobs.

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. The movie was followed by two sequels, in the film series of the same name.


Marketing executive Charlie Hinton and his best friend, Phil Ryerson, along with 300 others, find themselves fired when their boss, CEO Jim Fields, shuts down the company's entire health division due to children disliking new, healthy breakfast cereals made from vegetables.

While his wife Kim supports the family by returning to work as a lawyer, Charlie, after six weeks of job hunting, is forced by the bank to take their young son Ben out of Chapman Academy - an expensive and over-academic preschool headed by the haughty Gwyneth Harridan. Unable to find a satisfactory alternative, Charlie opens a daycare center in his home with the help of Phil, calling it "Daddy Day Care". Although local parents are suspicious of men working with kids, a few choose their service as it's cheaper and more child-based.

Charlie and Phil open with a few children, struggling at first with chaos, and some personal issues. Angered at the competition, Harridan attempts to shut them down, notifying child services of the new daycare. Charlie and Phil find themselves rectifying problems pointed out by Dan Kubitz, a director of child services, to ensure their daycare is suitable for children, including hiring their former colleague Marvin as an additional care provider.

In time, they slowly begin to enjoy running Daddy Day Care, which grows in popularity, and bonding with the kids, with Charlie delighted to see Ben enjoying himself, and having a good time. However, Harridan continues trying to shut them down after losing children to them. When Kubitz points out the house cannot accommodate the number of children they have, Charlie opts to find a new permanent facility somewhere in the city for the daycare rather than remove a few of the kids to keep it operating.

Marvin quickly mentions he knows of a building with potential, but they cannot afford it. They decide to hold a fundraising children's festival called "Rock for Daddy Day Care", to raise the necessary capital. However, Harridan learns of the event and sabotages it with help from her hesitant assistant Jennifer. At the same time, Jim offers Charlie and Phil their old jobs back at double their salaries, letting them run the whole health division. Harridan offers to take in their children for a cheaper price in exchange for Daddy Day Care shutting down. Charlie and Phil reluctantly accept the offer, leaving Marvin heartbroken and refusing to join them. The next day, at the marketing meeting for a cereal made from cotton candy, Charlie questions his decision, after he realizes the impact Daddy Day Care has had on Ben and the other children, and swiftly quits.

Convincing Phil to quit and re-open Daddy Day Care, and informing Marvin of their plans, Charlie confronts Harridan during a student orientation, and reveals to the parents in attendance how little she cares about their children. After mentioning how much Daddy Day Care changed and helped the children, like potty training Max, teaching Becca to read, teaching Crispin how to be polite and helping Ben make friends, Charlie convinces the parents to go back to Daddy Day Care. Six months later, the daycare manages to buy the building it needs to expand, and prospers, with Charlie and Phil successful, Jennifer now working for the center, and Marvin entering a relationship with one of the children's mothers. With Chapman forced out of business, Harridan is forced to work as a crossing guard, and inadvertently causes a traffic jam when a flower she receives from one of her former children, Crispin, causes her to be swarmed by bees and unintentionally creates a traffic jam by shooing the bees away with her stop sign.


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 reception

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 27% based on 132 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]

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

Box office

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 No. 10 on August 1.[12][13][14]


Main articles: Daddy Day Camp and Grand-Daddy Day Care

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 and Sony once again distributes the film (this time under TriStar). The film was panned by critics, with a 1% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It won the Razzie Award for "Worst Prequel or Sequel."


  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 (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.