Judge Ryan Keefer equates this movie to the time where Chad grabbed his special place at Camp Penalfonda.
Our review of Daddy Day Camp, published January 29th, 2008, is also available.
Summer is going to be in tents.
Sony's Blu-ray catalog is a nice mix of anime, action, drama and children's entertainment. But then there are these films that are sequels of popular though albeit weak titles, like Daddy Day Camp. The film came and went theatrically, pretty much as expected, and now it's hitting video shelves. So does Daddy Day Camp do work?
Facts of the Case
Geoff Rodkey (The Shaggy Dog), J. David Stem and David N. Weiss wrote the script. Stem and Weiss wrote Are We Done Yet?, which should explain quite a bit of it. And Fred Savage, the same Fred Savage of The Wonder Years fame and who has directed episodes of fun television shows like Kitchen Confidential and Cavemen, directed this thing. This continuation of Daddy Day Care has Charlie Hinton being played by Cuba Gooding, Jr. (Jerry Maguire) and Phil Ryerson's shoes filled by Paul Rae (Next). Not only did Eddie Murphy (Dreamgirls), who played Charlie in the first film, not want any part of a sequel, but Jeff Garlin (Curb Your Enthusiasm) bowed out of this too, which probably should have told someone at Sony something. But since the first film made $100 million, the economics of it merited a second film, because apparently the folks at Sony think that parents will take their kids to any film with no reservations. But I digress.
Charlie and Phil's day care business has been successful, so they decide to invest in a struggling day camp that Charlie went to as a kid. The camp, Camp Driftwood, is in danger of being bought out by Camp Canola and Lance (Lochlyn Munro, White Chicks), who has been a competitor with Charlie through the years, so the friction between the dueling summer camps is as old as Camps Mohawk and North Star, when it comes to cinematic lore. As it turns out, Charlie is a little more financially invested in the camp, with his house as part of the investment, so in between that and something having to do with Charlie's dad Buck (Richard Gant, Norbit), you've got the conflicts the film's protagonist has to resolve. I'm being a little more technical when it comes to the story, as an epileptic monkey could probably write a better story, but three people needed a WGA credit for some sort of personal benefit.
A quick peek at Rotten Tomatoes lists one positive review out of 70 for Daddy Day Camp, and when you read that review, the basic jist of it is, "well, considering what this is, are you expecting something different?" OK, so now that that's out of the way, I'm firmly convinced that films like this, along with American Idol, are overtly racist activities. Think about it, Idol gave tons of PR to those white contestants who won, and when the African Americans like Ruben Studdard and Fantasia won, what were we hearing about? Clay fricken' Aiken. And as far as I know, the folks that are signed to the Idol label are with a Sony label. Within the past year, Sony has released Are We Done Yet? and now Daddy Day Camp, films released in the last year, with two pretty likable African American actors in roles that pretty much debase their talents and make people wonder why the films were created in the first place.
So now that I've gotten the militant portion of our time out of the way, I think I can say that, without a doubt, Daddy Day Camp is devoid of any real creative or humorous thought. The jokes aren't funny, the story is predictable to tears and even on an unbiased level, the film just isn't entertaining. Gooding puts on what are perceived to be goofy double takes that people will laugh at, but they're just for flat jokes that don't make you laugh. But then I remembered he's been in similar gems like Snow Dogs, so he's certainly in a unique position when it comes to mugging in unfunny films.
Technically, the 1.85:1 widescreen presentation of Daddy Day Camp uses the AVC MPEG-4 codec and looks good, though it's not the best I've ever seen. The foreground image is pretty sharp and reproduced well, with accurate flesh tones and blacks that don't waver too often. There's not a lot of detail in the background, which is disappointing considering that a lot of this thing is, you know, outdoors. The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack doesn't really provide a real immersive experience. Surround effects are few and far between, subwoofer use is all of one scene in the feature, and dialogue stays in the center but is a little weak. The extras are presumably the same as those on the standard definition disc, with a 10-minute look at the film itself with interviews from the kids and of Savage as they talk about how fun it is to work on a virtually direct to video production. A frustrating 10 question quiz on the featurette is here and is boring and pretty pointless.
At first glance, Daddy Day Camp may seem like an underachieving sequel to a film that wasn't funny to begin with and is one of the more painful cinematic experiences in recent memory. But when you look into it further, it's really…nah, it's pretty much just that. Take a look at the films in my dossier that I've reviewed for the Verdict, and when I can say that Daddy Day Camp should never be seen by anybody, ever, I'd like to think there's some weight behind that statement. If you get this on Blu-ray, you should beat to death the person who gets it for you with the Blu-ray player that you play your movies on.
Guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt.
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Scales of Justice
• Making of Featurette
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