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Daddy Day Camp (2007)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc released: 1/29/2008
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 1/22/2008
It's not unusual for sequels to be completely different from the original film. Sometimes, other than title, they have nothing in common. Often the biggest difference that we see is a change in the cast. If an actor from a previous film can't make it for the sequel (often because they've moved on to bigger and better things), they are replaced by another actor, or simply written out of the film. (These characters often move, go off to college, or die between movies.) However, I don't think that I've ever seen a movie like Daddy Day Camp. This sequel to the 2003 surprise hit Daddy Day Care sees no less than six characters portrayed by different actors for the sequel. What would keep half-a-dozen actors from returning for the sequel?
Daddy Day Camp picks up a few years after the conclusion of Daddy Day Care. Charlie (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) and Phil (Paul Rae) are celebrating the continued success of their childcare business venture, "Daddy Day Care", which they created when they lost their corporate jobs. (This movie negates the ending of the original film where the men had bought a building for the business and moved it out of Charlie's house.) Summer is approaching and Charlie's son, Ben (Spencir Bridges), wants to attend summer camp at Camp Canola. But Charlie, who has bad memories of camp, wants Ben to attend his old camp, Camp Driftwood. As Charlie and Ben, with Phil and his son, Max (Dallin Boyce), in tow, head for Camp Driftwood, they pass Camp Canola to see that it's a very fancy place with all of the modern amenities. Arriving at Driftwood, they find that it's fallen into disrepair and is a dump. Charlie is about to abandon the whole camp idea when he learns that his old camp rival Lance Warner (Lochlyn Munro) now runs Camp Canola. Inspired by this, Charlie purchases a share of Camp Driftwood and transforms it into Daddy Day Camp. But, how can an old camp which needs lots of TLC compete with the flash Camp Canola?
When Daddy Day Care grossed over $100 million at the U.S. box office, it was no surprise that a sequel was announced. However, the project never seemed to get off of the ground, despite the fact that star Eddie Murphy was rumored to be returning. Then, word of Daddy Day Camp leaked and it was said to be a "direct to video" project. In today's market, that wasn't all that surprising, as this happens all the time. What was surprising was when Daddy Day Camp was announced for a theatrical release. Would people pay good money to see this in the theater?
It would be very easy to trash Daddy Day Camp for taking the path of least resistance and piggy-backing upon the success of the first movie. However, that wouldn't be fair as this is essentially a carbon-copy of the first film, but it's set in the woods. Yes, this movie's biggest problem is that there isn't a single original thing in it. All of the children's characters in the movie are stereotypes -- the bully, the nerd, the fat kid, the pretty girl, the smart girl, the kid who vomits all the time, etc. The really odd thing here is the Ben Hinton character. In the first film, he was shy, but after being around the "Daddy Day Care" kids, he came out of his shell. In the sequel he's oddly inhibited (the exact nature is never explored or explained) and when he does ANYTHING, it's a big deal. The "rich camp vs. poor camp" idea has been done many times in the past, and in Daddy Day Camp it falls into the typical place where all of the rich kids are mean brats, and the "poor" kids are good and wholesome. (In reality, I don't think that anyone would let their kids go to Camp Driftwood.)
But, I imagine that most viewers don't approach Daddy Day Camp looking for originality. Unfortunately, you find any of the elements which made Daddy Day Care work. That film was funny and surprisingly tender-hearted. The attempts at humor in Daddy Day Camp are quite lame, and the two truly funny moments in the film were in the trailer. Beyond that, we are treated to a series of physical jokes and the occasional bodily-humor gag, none of which are particularly funny. This is surprising, for if anyone would know comedy, it's director Fred Savage. He must have picked up some pointers when he was in movies like The Wizard and Little Monsters. There's no attempt at any subtle humor or clever dialogue, and adults will be bored to tears. As for kids, I watched this movie with my children. Halfway through, one picked up a book and the other left the room. If kids don't enjoy this, who will?
I'm sure that most critics who write about Daddy Day Camp will talk about how far Cuba Gooding, Jr. has fallen. Well, I won't, because there's nothing wrong with an actor who wants to branch out into family films and make something that everyone can enjoy. (I mean, Eddie Murphy was in the first one and it only bolstered his career.) The problem is that Gooding didn't pick a great vehicle for this. Not only was in the shadow of Eddie Murphy, the movie simply isn't very good. Perhaps it would be best if Daddy Day Camp went away for the summer and never came back.
Daddy Day Camp packs a tent onBlu-ray Disc courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the disc has a AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 27 Mbps. The image looks very good, as it's quite sharp and clear. There is basically no grain here and no defects from the source material. The scenes in the forest (which are numerous) look great as the trees in the background give the image a very nice amount of depth. The colors look fantastic. The movie was shot in a very natural style, so the reds, blues, and greens really pop here. I didn't detect any overt artifacting or video noise. The disc has a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.0 Mbps. This track sounds fine, as it supplies us with clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo channels provide some nice textures from the woods and the finale provides some nice surround sound. However, the one explosion in the film (which you've seen in the trailer) did not bring forth much of a subwoofer response.
The Daddy Day Camp Blu-ray Disc contains only one real extra feature, "How I Spent My Summer: Making Daddy Day Camp" (12 minutes). Here we get comments from all of the kids as they describe their characters. This is followed by on-set footage showing director Ben Savage at work. There is a lot of talk from the actors about how much fun they had making this movie. Well, at least someone was having fun. The only other extra is the 10 question "What I Learned at Camp: Interactive Quiz".
Review Copyright 2008 by Mike Long