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Daddy Day Camp

If you loved Daddy Day Care, you might find Daddy Day Camp a mildly amusing sequel, even if Eddie Murphy isn't in it.


This follow-up to Daddy Day Care picks up with Charlie Hinton (Cuba Gooding Jr.) and Phil Ryerson (Paul Rae) running their thriving day care business. With summer approaching, however, the prospect of camp for their sons comes up, and Charlie vehemently opposes to it. He had bad camp experiences, you see, but when he grudgingly takes his son Ben (Spencir Bridges) to Camp Driftwood, he finds that his old rival Lance Warner (Lochlyn Munro) is running the swanky Camp Canola nearby. Camp Driftwood is, of course, in shambles, but Charlie thinks he can fix it up and continue his business into the summer. The first day goes badly, so Charlie is forced to call in his father, Buck (Richard Gant), to help with the outdoorsy stuff, as Lance continues to taunt Charlie and his kids into an Olympiad competition. The story actually provides a strong moral center about fathers and sons communicating, while the jokes don't get any more sophisticated than poison ivy and farts. But that's what you bargained for.


You can say one thing about Gooding and Rae: They never make you think about Eddie Murphy and Jeff Garlin, the original Daddys. There's some continuity but Gooding and Rae make these characters their own—for better or for worse. Gooding is a father trying to make a better life for his son, who has his own daddy issues, while Rae is once again just the goofy sidekick. In the wild moments, Gooding prances and mugs like a cartoon character with no subtlety whatsoever but tones it down appropriately in the more serious moments. Gant (Norbit) gives Daddy Day Camp its heart. As the strict military patriarch, it's a little much when he turns all Col. Buck on the kids, but it's believable. But then when he slowly breaks down and realizes what an absent father he's been, those moments work. Character actor Munro (Deck the Halls) seems happy to once again play the bad guy.


Director Fred Savage (yes, the same kid actor from The Wonder Years) made the best Daddy Day Camp he could, considering the subject matter. All it really takes is setting up one comic disaster after another for the heroes to overcome. Scenes with hordes of screaming kids running rampant are plentiful, of course, and it couldn't have been easy to coordinate that take after take. But balancing the silly antics with the film's heart is the most impressive task. As much as it may be a chore to sit through unsophisticated kiddie pratfalls, you've got to respect how the meaningful scenes play out. There is a real journey in Daddy Day Camp. Sure, the kids will laugh at the sloppy, muddy, gooey gunk, but the parents may appreciate the other stuff.

Bottom Line rated this film 2 stars.