“Will you say multi-dextrose for me again? It’s too cute.”
I really expected this to be an intolerable nightmare saved only by Elle Fanning, so I was pleasantly surprised to find myself laughing through it a lot more than is probably acceptable, even a couple of l’il tears in my eyes in places. Angelica Huston is practically perfect if a little familiar (she even gets a similar ending here to her character in Ever After) as the evil headmistress of a first class pre-school trying to thwart the relatively restrained Eddie Murphy’s attempts to start a more homely form of daycare, and Lacey Chabert is fun as her sidekick. The kids are adorable almost without exception – they all have their “moments”, particularly at the end when announcing to parents being shown around Huston’s school how they’ve benefited from the daddy day care. Steve Zahn is perfect as a Trekkie who’s able to handle the kids better than anybody since he accidentally read Dr. Spock’s Baby and Childcare.
The movie’s mood veers effortlessly from toilet humour that threatens to go too far at times yet never does and is actually surprisingly effective (“I missed!”) through to pure schmaltz and heartstring tuggery. For family entertainment, I found it almost literally bang in between the astonishing R.V. and the abysmal Yours, Mine and Ours that it most resembles … I don’t know what that means to anyone else, but to me it means I really have no objections, I loved it.