‘Daddy Day Camp’: For kids’ eyes only

Thu, 08/09/2007 - 3:01pm
By: Emily Baldwin

While the new film “Daddy Day Camp” stems from the characters and basic story of the 2003 film “Daddy Day Care,” the film has a whole new cast and crew, including the switch from Eddie Murphy to Cuba Gooding Jr. in the role of Charlie Hinton, and is directed by Fred Savage of “The Wonder Years” fame.

The film picks up at the end of another year of the Daddy Day Care business. Charlie and his business partner/best friend, Phil (Paul Rae), have once again managed to run their business successfully out of Charlie and his wife Kim’s home, and they are looking forward to a relaxing summer.

When Charlie’s son Ben asks to go to camp, Charlie is opposed to the idea, recalling his own bad experiences at summer camp 30 years before. Kim, determined not to allow her son to miss out on an experience due to Charlie’s own bad memories, insists that Ben be allowed to go to camp and informs Charlie that he and Phil will be driving Ben and Max, Phil’s son, to the day camp.

On the way to Camp Driftwood, the camp of Charlie and Phil’s youth, the fathers and sons pass by the rival camp- one that 30 years before was nothing more than a swamp and a few cabins- only to discover it has since been built up into a luxury day camp by Lance Warner. Warner just so happens to be the camper who made Charlie’s camp experience so miserable when he beat Charlie at the annual cross-camp end-of-summer competion.

When they reach Camp Driftwood, both Charlie and Phil are stunned to see that it has been reduced to a dilapidated wreck with no campers in site. Determined to spend the summer with his son and to beat out his former rival, Charlie makes the impulse decision to buy Camp Driftwood and run his own day camp.

Of course, Charlie knows little about being a camper and even less about being a camp counselor. There’s only one way Charlie and Phil will be able to turn the camp into a success and beat out the rival camp in the end-of-summer competition: by bringing in Charlie’s father. The only problem is that Charlie and his father don’t exactly see eye to eye, and working together presents its own challenges.

It’s a story about fathers and sons and the underdog succeeding, and, in the end, is a pleasant but forgettable film. Gooding’s role as the fish out of water won’t win him another Oscar, but then again neither did his role in “Snowdogs.”

In a summer full of high-action films aimed at older audiences, this may not be a bad choice for a final theater outing before kids head back to school.

The hijinks to which the camp atmosphere lends itself will be entertaining for kids, but this isn’t a film that spends much energy trying to entertain the parents in the crowd. For the most part the acting is stiff, the jokes are worn out and the humor is at a second grade level. None of those seeming negatives will bother the kids in the audience, however.


login to post comments