Cuba Gooding Jr. as Charlie Hinton
Lochlan Munroe as Lance Warner
Richard Gant as Col. Buck Hinton
Tamala Jones as Kim Hinton
Paul Rae as Phil Ryerson
Josh McLerran as Dale
Spencir Bridges as Ben Hinton
Brian-Doyle Murray as Uncle Morty
Dallin Boyce as Max Ryerson
Telise Galaris as Juliette
Taggart Hurtubise as Carl
Molly Jepson as Becca
Tad D’Agostino as Robert
Tyger Rawlings as Billy West
Talon G. Ackerman as Jack
Zachary Allen as Mullethead
Sean Patrick Flaherty as Bobby J.
Kid’s movies, obviously, are for kids, and any attempt to analyze them beyond that is at some level doomed to failure; however, even when expectations are reduced to match there is still a discernible difference between a well-crafted, well intentioned children’s film, and a piece of manufactured, heartless, lowest common denominator rubbish. “Daddy Day Camp” falls squarely in the latter category.
The follow-up to the 2003 Eddie Murphy vehicle “Daddy Day Care” in which, notably, not a single original cast member returns “Daddy Day Camp” finds Cuba Gooding Jr. taking over the role of Charlie Hinton, a modern Mr. Mom who, upon finding himself suddenly unemployed, created his own ultimately successful home-based day care. He’s decided to take the next step and buy into his local summer camp, Camp Driftwood, where he spent his summers as a boy while his Marine colonel father (Richard Gant) was off on maneuvers.
“Daddy Day Camp” truly is a horrific mess. It’s not really a movie for kids; it’s a movie for kids by adults who don’t have the slightest idea what makes a quality film for any audience. Returning mastermind Geoff Rodkey who’s made a career out of ham-handed, pointless,’family’ oriented drek like “The Shaggy Dog” and his co-writers (all four of them) seem convinced that all a ‘family’ film needs are some gross out gags and the occasional pop-culture reference and voilà; magic. Puerile doesn’t even begin to do “Daddy Day Camp” justice every bodily function imaginable is on display here, from urine to skunk spray.
When not aiming at vomit inducing, actor-turned-director Fred Savage (in his feature debut) seems to be trying for heartwarming, but the only two emotions “Daddy Day Camp” is able to dredge up are disgust and pity, pity that a fine actor like Cuba Gooding Jr. keeps having to take on crap like this in order to get lead roles. Either he’s getting offered absolutely nothing else, or he honestly has the worst agent on Earth, if not this arm of the Milky Way galaxy. He wisely forgoes duplicating Murphy’s calculated mania, settling for earnestness, with the occasional glimpses of annoyance. It’s autopilot all the way, and he’s still the best actor in the film.
Everyone else is playing a type from stern military man Gant, to the cookie cutter kids generally (with the exception of villain Munroe) without much enthusiasm, but with much corniness. There seems to be something about children’s films that reduces all adults in them to delivering their lines with wide eyes and funny voices. It’s probably meant to be sincerity, but mostly it’s just ridiculous. There’s a general theme about the relationships between fathers and sons, particularly the importance of that relationship in childhood, as Charlie tries to repair his own family failings, but it all comes across as so pointless it’s barely worth mentioning.
With hardly a single redeeming feature, it really is as if the worst parts of every kid’s movie of the last decade have been jammed together at random to create “Daddy Day Camp.” Awful. Simply awful.