Daddy Day Camp

2007, Movie, PG, 93 mins

Review

DADDY DAY CAMP
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Cuba Gooding Jr. has made some embarrassing movies since winning his JERRY MAGUIRE Oscar (the baroque SHADOWBOXER notwithstanding), but this one had to hurt. Gooding takes over the role of DADDY DAY CARE's Charlie Hinton from Eddie Murphy, who, while not above making follow-ups like DOCTOR DOLITTLE 2 and NUTTY PROFESSOR II: THE KLUMPS, couldn't be bothered to show up.

As another school year draws to a close, Charlie and his best friend, Phil (Paul Rae, replacing Jeff Garlin), celebrate yet another successful year for their Daddy Day Care center. Charlie's young son, Ben (Spencir Bridges, son of Diff'rent Strokes star Todd Bridges), is excited about attending high-tech, lakeside day camp Canola, where kids skateboard on Vans-sponsored ramps, tear up the woods on ATVs and shoot each other with paint-ball guns. Ben's mom, Kim (Tamala Jones, filling in for Regina King), is all for the idea, but overprotective Charlie is dead set against it: Charlie suffered the greatest humiliation of his life at Camp Driftwood when he fumbled a baton pass during the 1977 inter-camp Olympiad against the very same Camp Canola. Charlie has never quite gotten over the trauma of being teased mercilessly by Canola-camper Lance Warner in front of his hard-nosed, supremely critical Marine colonel father, Buck (Richard Gant), but if Ben is going anywhere this summer, it’s Driftwood. Unfortunately, the neglected Driftwood is about to shut down for good, which gives the entrepreneur in Charlie a great idea: He'll buy and run the place. But with only Phil and a gangly Trekkie named Dale (Josh McLerran) to help, the first day is an unmitigated disaster and Day 2 is worse: Only seven of the original 30-plus campers return (though anyone who can count will come up with nine, including Ben). Worse, Camp Canola is now owned by Charlie's old nemesis, so when Lance (Gary Busey look-alike Lochlyn Munro) challenges Camp Driftwood to a 30th-anniversary Olympiad, Charlie must call in the reinforcements: his father.

This terrible sequel to a bad movie was directed by Fred Savage, the now-grown star of The Wonder Years, though there's no evidence of any behind-the-scenes adult supervision. The script is a string of gags involving dangerously backed-up toilets, projectile vomiting, testicular trauma and rude noises — the kind of stuff only a kid could love. But sandwiched between the farts and belches is the kind of schmaltz just about everyone hates: mawkish homilies about character and how everyone's a winner, even if they come in dead last. Strange, then, that the kids of Camp Driftwood should resort to dirty tricks to trounce the cheaters of Camp Canola. In the end it comes down to how you play the game, especially when your strategy involves gassing your opponents with skunk spray, then soaking them in piss and puke. leave a comment --Ken Fox

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