Daddy Day Camp
Prepare to Defend Yourselves
Daddy Day Camp defies answers to great questions: Who put up good money for this movie? What could have been the intent of the director? What on earth was Cuba Gooding, Jr. thinking?
Charlie Hinton and Phil Ryerson have a problem. It is summer and their Daddy Daycare is about to become a ghost town due to vacations and kids being sent to day camps. Buoyed by the blind hindsight that sees perfection in episodes of one’s life best forgotten, Charlie and Phil enroll their sons in the day camp they attended as boys. When they deliver the kids, they discover that their dear alma mater is a rundown dump right next door to a camp for the children of the wealthy upwardly-mobile.
Lo and behold, the camp is run by Charlie’s arch nemesis from his childhood camp days, Lance Warner. Lance is trying to buy out the old camp so that he can increase the acreage of his day spa for kids. Charlie and Phil refuse to let their old camp die and buy it to spite Lance and return it to its old glory. Thus follows a summer of pratfalls, exploding outhouses, poison ivy, buses being driven into buildings, and bank officials attempting to foreclose on the property. All of this culminates in an intra-camp Olympics and you can guess how it ends!
Daddy Daycare was a moderate success at the box office and at least entertaining to the point that it did not stretch logic or imagination to the limit. I’m sure the intent of Daddy Day Camp was to build on that success and deliver another entertaining movie to children. Now, children don’t care so much that the entire cast is different from the first movie, but they are not stupid and know when they have been had. Director Fred Savage (of The Wonder Years fame) gets nothing from any of his cast. The acting—even of Academy Award-winning Gooding—is stiff; the delivery of the lines is mistimed and unbelievable, and the dialogue, written by Geoff Rodkey and J. David Stem, is so awful that the large audience of children I viewed this movie with spent most of their time groaning instead of laughing. The adults were just silent and most likely praying for a quick end.
The whole movie seems to breathe out desperation. If a lot of money was spent on this film, the producers have been taken for a ride. Perhaps Fred Savage was hoping to finally break away from television and thought Daddy Day Camp would be a good premiere outing. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like directing for the big screen is quite yet his niche and the sad thing is that he will be judged on this disaster no matter what his talent.
The biggest question in my mind is, “What has happened to Cuba Gooding, Jr.?” He has done nothing of note since 2003 when he appeared in The Fighting Temptations. From the absence of any passion for his character in Daddy Day Camp, I would say that he needed some quick cash even though he has several movies in post- and pre-production.
All in all, Daddy Day Camp reeks “cheap” and if anything, should have been a straight-to-DVD-release. Another low-quality movie only reaffirms the suspicion that
Daddy Day Camp is rated PG for “mild bodily humor and language.” The only parental guidance needed for this movie is direction to a more productive use of parents’ money and the child’s time. There is no nudity or foul language, but there is plenty of disrespect (toward adults and children) and lots of bathroom and body-function humor.
Courtesy of a local publicist, Kathy attended a promotional screening of Daddy Day Camp.