Judge Brett Cullum would rather have to do something bears do in the woods rather than sit through this one again.
Our review of Daddy Day Camp (Blu-Ray), published January 24th, 2008, is also available.
So bad even Eddie Murphy skipped it. And he made Norbit!
Originally this sequel was supposed to be a "straight to DVD" affair, but some Sony executive got the bright idea to release it in theaters to build demand. The original 2003 Daddy Day Care was a middle-of-the-road film starring Eddie Murphy, Steve Zahn, and Kevin Nealon that was likable enough. Kids and comedians are a natural mix, and family films are few and far between. The simple tale of several unemployed dads running a day care grossed over $100 million at the box office, meaning a sequel was inevitable, and now we have Daddy Day Camp with none of the star power or original ideas.
Facts of the Case
The day-care business is doing so well that dads Charlie (Cuba Gooding Jr.) and Phil (Paul Rae, Air Buddies) have decided to invest in a day camp to expand their franchise. Camp Driftwood is a true fixer upper with many debts, and it's also the target of competing Camp Canola, whose owner wants to expand. Can the dads save their beloved camp? Will there be stereotypical kids, fart jokes, and vomit gags? Does a bear dump in the woods? By the end, we get the inevitable summer camp Olympiad against the rival campers, and everyone learns how to love themselves. Oh yeah, and a grandfather shows up to lead the way.
The cast is full of people determined to lose your respect. Cuba Gooding Jr. won an Oscar 10 years ago, and ever since he's been spiraling downhill like an acting avalanche with gems such as Boat Trip, Snow Dogs, and Rat Race on his post Jerry Maguire resume. Hell, he even appeared in Eddie Murphy's Norbit. Cuba will appear in anything as long as you "show him the money." Paul Rae is his sidekick, and he comes off as a second-rate John Goodman. The director of this mess is Fred Savage, who won our hearts as the child lead in The Wonder Years. Almost makes you wish he would have done like every other child star and turned to hard drugs and deviant sex rather than settling down to direct this dreck. The three screenwriters who joined forces to crank out the script boast previous credits like Are We Done Yet? and the remake of The Shaggy Dog. It takes a village to make a misguided sequel these days.
Daddy Day Camp falls victim to every second installment of an unambitious comedy about children. The whole movie feels like a lame sitcom from a basic cable channel, and the humor maintains a painfully low tone. There are so many fart and vomit jokes that an outhouse explosion seems highbrow when it comes along. The kids are the usual stereotypes including a geek, a fat one, a well-spoken girl, a future criminal, and one who gets sick all the time. The twist to this one is that Charlie's military father (Richard Gant, another alum of Norbit) shows up to save the day camp and heal their relationship.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
At least the DVD looks pretty good. The video and sound are just fine, and Sony does an excellent job making the technical aspects solid enough. Daddy Day Camp was mastered for Blu-ray, so the high definition look to this DVD is no surprise. The video is clear with no traces of artifacts or color problems. The surround channels are used playfully with nice differentiation of background sounds including insects and flatulence. There's not too much in the way of extras, but a "How I Spent My Summer Making Daddy Day Camp" with Fred Savage suffices to explain the film's low ambitions. There's also a trivia quiz based on the extra feature, so pay attention. Okay, that qualifies as officially lame but it's something. Also included are some coupons to pizza palace Chuck E. Cheese, so at least parents will get a good deal on game tokens if they buy this one by mistake. The kids will be far more amused playing skee ball for cheap stuffed animals than watching this movie.
This one is just a cash grab sequel that maintains none of the original cast and uses the same premise with a different setting. A weaker level of production value just adds insult to injury. Daddy Day Camp feels like the direct to DVD feature it was always meant to be. There's not much going on here to recommend other than a cast and crew collecting a paycheck. Despite the badness of the feature, Sony delivers a quality transfer and some okay extras. It's not enough to redeem the film, but having some Chuck E. Cheese coupons in hand will take some of the sting out of a purchase. Fans of the original film would do better just to watch it again, unless the idea of Cuba Gooding Jr. trying to fill Eddie Murphy's shoes excites you. Daddy Day Camp isn't funny or fresh, and the summer camp comedy is bested by almost every other entry in the genre.
Guilty, and sentenced to 10 years lost in the woods.
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Scales of Justice
• "Making of" Featurette
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