Steve Carr, who previously worked with Eddie Murphy on ''Dr. Dolittle 2,'' can thank the comedian's children for this gig. ''Eddie said he liked Dr. Dolittle 2, but more important, his kids really loved it,'' says the director, who's clearly ignoring W.C. Fields' no-children-or-animals advice. ''First it was talking animals,'' he says. ''Now kids. All I need to do is talking animals and kids -- on water.''
The only wet stuff here is in the potty, as three laid-off coworkers (Murphy, Steve Zahn, and Jeff Garlin) manage their own day-care center. For Zahn, who has two children in real life, working with his young costars was strangely liberating: ''When it's not your kids, you can go to your trailer and play PlayStation and no one's gonna yell at you!'' says the actor, who also voiced ''Dolittle'''s Archie the Bear. So who's tougher to wrangle? ''Kids,'' says Carr. ''The bear from 'Dr. Dolittle 2' was much easier than any of the kids. You throw a slab of meat onto the set and the bear's like, 'Hey, where's my mark?'' Kids, they're all over the place.'' Seconds Zahn: ''You can smack the bear with a pole and pour maple syrup down its throat to get it to sit. If you did that to a kid, we'd all be in jail.''