Please Don’t Eat the Daisies, based on the book of the same name, stars Doris Day and David Niven as Kate and Larry McKay, a housewife and her drama critic husband who live in New York City with their four children. They all live in a cramped urban apartment where there is plenty of opportunity for the four young boys to get in trouble, but not a whole lot of space for the family to live in.
The couple’s dream has always been to move to a bigger place in the country, where they can have more room to breathe. But as Larry’s success as a drama critic grows, he decides that he may rather stick with city life — and all the while, Kate is still stuck on their dream of a country home.
The plot of the film is interesting enough, though it takes a while for the conflict to build and become apparent. The film as a whole is a bit slow-moving as a result, but it does get better as it movies along.
About half way through, the conflict begins to pick up a bit and the comedy in the mishaps that the family encounters become more hectic as well. The film still remains slower-paced than the viewer would like throughout the second half, but the slight pick-me-up does help.
Doris Day is delightful and hilarious as usual. Her performances are always consistently solid, no matter what the film is. This film certainly showcases her natural talent for subtle comedy, though she was known for her more outwardly comedic performances. She excels at both types. She also, as usual, gets to show of her beautiful voice a couple of times, including a little snippet of her famous rendition of “Que Sera, Sera.”
The performances by the rest of the cast are solid in general, though there are no real stand outs. The four children are very natural in their roles, and their interaction with Day is fun to watch. This rambunctious crew of kids always seems to be up to something, sometimes plotting to cause a bit of trouble for their mother but often just getting into trouble by being their hyper selves.
Niven and Day don’t have as much chemistry as she had with some of her other leading men, but they’re still believable as a couple, particularly as problems arise to strain their already lukewarm relationship.
Please Don’t Eat the Daisies is a comedy driven by the minor catastrophes that occur throughout the daily lives of a family in transition. The conflict between Kate and Larry coupled with Larry’s changing values and the misfortunes that befall the family set the stage for a pleasant and amusing but not completely stellar family comedy. The score: 2.8/5