Daddy Day Camp (2007) / Comedy-Action
MPAA Rated: PG for crude humor
Running time: 89 min.
Cast: Cuba Gooding Jr., Paul Rae, Lochlyn Munro, Richard Gant, Tamala Jones, Josh McLerran, Spencir Bridges, Brian Doyle-Murray, Dallin Boyce, Telise Galanis, Taggart Hurtubis, Molly Jepson
Director: Fred Savage
Screenplay: Geoff Rodkey, J. David Stern, David N. Weiss
Review published August 12, 2007
Belching, farting, puking, pooping, and peeing are natural body functions, and not anything clever or witty enough on their own to claim as being true comedy devices. The only thing that makes these acts "funny", especially to kids, is that they are considered to be excessively rude or embarrassing to do in front of others, If we can agree that bodily emissions are a fact of life, and not true comedy, then we should also agree that Daddy Day Camp is not a comedy as well. Practically every single instance of humor in the film revolves around the gaseous eruptions, liquid waste expulsions, urine splattering, projectile vomiting, and noxious belches. There's even the suggestion that one of the kids not take a dump for a couple of weeks because he apparently wiped his butt with poison ivy.
Remove these things from this film and you'd have a family drama, and one barely an hour long at that. It wouldn't be good, but it would be mercifully shorter, and less toxic. All that would be left in terms of comedy is a bunch of slapstick that also isn't funny, unless you think that youth caregivers that would willingly allow children to attend a camp that they know to be a veritable deathtrap with no functional bathroom facilities as humorous.
Daddy Cay Camp stinks, in a figurative sense of course, but it gets to the point where you might even begin to think that you can actually smell that flatulence whenever it erupts on the screen. The MPAA rates these sorts of films PG, regardless of how much crude humor they throw in. I think we need a new rating system for family fare that only has potty humor going for it in terms of laughs: "Rated PU: No one over the age of 10 will be admitted".
The film starts off with Charlie (Gooding, Radio) and Phil (Rae, Air Buddies) a success in their business venture, "Daddy Day Care" an opportunity to branch out by extending their services to a camp for kids, just like the one that Charlie attended as a kid. In fact, the camp they plan to start is Camp Driftwood, the very same camp, which has fallen on severe hard times now that their rival camp in the area, Camp Canola, has upgraded their services to include paintball, river rafting, and sundry other things that the low-budget Driftwood can't come close to offering. Wanting to strike back at Canola's grown-up bully of an owner, Lance Warner (Munro, Little Man), Charlie and Phil decide to try to overcome formidable debts, a mountain of renovations, and Lance's underhanded tactics to make the camp a success. However, to get it in tip-top shape, Charlie finds that he needs a real leader, and so he turns to his estranged father, Colonel Buck Hinton (Gant, Nutty Professor II), to get the kids to believe in themselves and compete against the uppity Canola bullies in the annual Olympiad competition.
Daddy Day Camp isn't as much of a rehash of Daddy Day Care as it is a regurgitation of other family films featuring outcast kids, especially Meatballs, with its camp hijinks, motley kid make-up, and Olympiad competition against a rival upscale camp. Interestingly, all of the previous cast took a pass on reprising their roles for this needless sequel. One could claim they did so on artistic merits, but when Eddie does films like Norbit, it's not like he is really making anything better. Of course, given that Cuba Gooding Jr. was also in Norbit, it makes me wonder how horrendous the scripts must be that Cuba passes up, if there are any. Probably the ones that end up starring Jerry O'Connell.
I didn't really have great love for Daddy Day Care, so my expectations of the quality of any sequels that stem from it were already pretty low. I expected bad, and that's what I got. Fred Savage, a former child star himself, has been busy directing quite a bit of youth-oriented TV shows of late, and given the restrictions on humor in bad taste on those shows, it's a head-scratcher as to why he employs so much of it in this big screen outing. I think "The Wonder Years" might be a term to just as easily apply to this phase of Savage's career, if this is the kind of material he deems worthwhile.
I sincerely hope I never see a third film in this series, as it's impossible to imagine the films getting any cruder and still hold on to their family film status. If there is a way, I already know the title for it: Daddy Day Crap.
©2007 Vince Leo