“Water is wet, sky is blue, and old Satan Claus, Jimmy, he’s out there. And he’s just getting stronger.” Joe Hallenbeck (“The Last Boy Scout”)
2003’s “Daddy Day Care” told us the story of Charlie Hinton (played by Eddie Murphy) and his friend Phil (Jeff Garlin), who get laid off from their jobs and end up becoming stay at home dads. Charlie and Phil then decide to try and start up a day care business, appropriately called Daddy Day Care, and this new entrepreneurial endeavor takes off rather quickly. Now, in 2007, “Daddy Day Camp” follows the business from day care to, well, day camp. Charlie and Phil are back, only Murphy and Garlin chose to sit this one out, and are instead played by Cuba Gooding Jr. and Paul Rae. One could certainly learn a valuable lesson here if Eddie Murphy actually had the wherewithal to turn down a project – stay away no matter how the big the check involved.
It’s summer time at the Hinton home and Charlie decides it best to bring the kids to camp during the day. He picks Camp Driftwood, a camp he used to attend when he was a child, but is surprised to learn that the camp is all but abandoned. With the help of Paul and his father, Col. Buck Hinton (Richard Gant), the team begins to fix up the place. What follows are a series of foreseeable mishaps and calamities, mixed with a never ending supply of urine and fart jokes. I never thought it would be possible for a fart joke to be foreseeable.
This new group of kids (as the original group was also smart enough not to return for this sequel) is complete with stereotypes that haven’t been funny since 1987. Take Mullethead (Zachary Allen) for instance. First of all, yes, that his is character name and secondly, as if you couldn’t guess, he does indeed sport a mullet. I believe the mullet craze of 1998 has long ended its onslaught of hilarity but I guess no one let the screenwriters here know. The rest of the group, Mullethead included, makes for a brilliant argument as to why the Roe v. Wade decision should never be overturned.
Cuba Gooding Jr. has long lost any theatrical clout that Academy Award gave him all those years ago, but with this, any future acting endeavors are sure to head straight to video. It’s actually quite surprising this film got a theatrical run.
Even more surprising about “Daddy Day Camp” was the fact that Fred Savage of “Wonder Years” fame directed it. Television stars of old have often made their way into direction, like when Paul Michael Glaser of “Starsky and Hutch” directed “The Running Man” but at least that was done with enthusiasm and pride. Here, Savage directs with the skill of a piece of driftwood and the technique of Uwe Boll. Did he learn nothing from all those years of working in television?
As a film critic, you never feel all that great giving a negative review. You always try to find some positives but sometimes, like with this film, it’s nearly impossible. I grew up watching “The Wonder Years” so I would love to see Fred Savage’s talents blossom towards a new direction. Instead, “Daddy Day Camp” is a perfect family film for the blind and deaf.