Daddy Day Camp

If you looked in the dictionary under the word “boring,” after the variety of definitions we’ve all become familiar with you would see a more recent addition: any of Cuba Gooding Jr.’s “family friendly” films. The Oscar-winner’s latest endeavor, Daddy Day Camp is so bland and tasteless it looks like Gooding himself had trouble staying awake during half the scenes.

Daddy Day Camp is, of course, the sequel to Eddie Murphy’s Daddy Day Care. Clearly the follow up is so devoid of excitement that it held no draw for a single member of the original cast. In fact, it feels like this probably should have been a different movie entirely, but someone felt it could be “fixed” to work as a sequel to Daddy Day Care. Well, it doesn’t work, either as a sequel or as a stand alone film.

The story picks up a couple of years down the road for Charlie Hinton (Gooding) and his buddy Phil (Paul Rae replacing Jeff Garlin). The film opens showing that they haven’t really gotten better at the whole day care thing. Children run amuck peeing in plants and knocking down celebratory cake while the duo attempts to grill burgers. With such a promising career in day care, it’s no surprise that they attempt to branch out into a summer day camp endeavor, right? Especially when it’s driven by a childhood rivalry with an opposing camp, now owned by the jerk who beat Charlie in a climactic summer camp race. But when the opposing camp proves to be too much competition, Charlie has to call in his militant father (Richard Gant), a powerful figure who Charlie has tried to make sure he’s nothing like, especially in regards to his own son.

As a camp movie, a childhood vendetta story, and a father-son story, Daddy Day Care is simply uninspired. Each element of the overall film has been done before better somewhere else, sometimes even done better in a made-for-TV movie. There is only one unpredictable laugh in the entire movie – one legitimate time in the film that I actually let out a chuckle, and that’s about two minutes from the conclusion of the film. The rest is fart jokes, camp humor, and sad attempts to be sentimental about father-son relationships. Sure, some of the kids will laugh at those jokes, but they really are the only ones, leaving the adults to watch regurgitated humor and storylines for ninety minutes and gaze upon their kids wishing that either they were that young again or that their kids had more sense than to laugh.

The movie is also devoid of logic most of the time. For instance, Charlie and Phil have a thriving day care business, but then decide to branch out into summer camp. So, who’s watching the day care business if they’re tied up with the summer camp? For that matter, why do they have so much trouble finding clientele for their summer camp if they have several years of day care customers? If those kids didn’t have to show up to the summer camp, why should we have to?

Sadly, this isn’t the first review of a Cuba Gooding Jr. “family friendly” movie to accuse the star of being devoid of entertainment or even interest. It probably won’t be the last. It’s not that Daddy Day Care is miserably bad even; it’s just boring and tepid, and has been done better elsewhere. Still, this seems to be Gooding’s decisive career move. The actor should take heed however: if he’s already picking up Eddie Murphy’s leftovers, there really isn’t too far a fall into unemployment.