The Austin Chronicle

Daddy Day Camp

Rated PG, 89 min. Directed by Fred Savage. Starring Cuba Gooding Jr., Paul Rae, Lochlyn Munro, Richard Gant, Tamala Jones, Josh McLerran, Spencir Bridges.

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Aug. 10, 2007

There's a certain irony in the fact that the formulaic kiddie pic Daddy Day Camp was filmed in Provo and Park City, Utah – the latter town being the gathering spot for the Sundance Film Festival, Robert Redford's annual celebration of independent filmmaking. Though we see little of Park City aside from the mountain tops, Daddy Day Camp represents the kind of filmmaking that is regarded as a scourge by most Sundance attendees. A follow-up to 2003's feeble Daddy Day Care, the sequel aims low and barely hits its self-chosen mark. Evidence of the filmmakers' blasé attention to detail arrives at the outset as Daddy Day Care's leading combo of Eddie Murphy and Jeff Garlin are replaced by a different pair of an average-sized black guy and oversized white guy: Gooding and Rae. Same characters, different faces, no Pamela Ewing having a dreamland epiphany. Having established in the first film the success of their male-run day-care center, it's now time to send the kids off to camp. However, the Camp Driftwood of Charlie (Gooding Jr.) and Phil's (Rae) childhood has become a dump, and their kids long to go to upscale Camp Canola, run by the hammy villain Lance Warner (Munro), who traumatized Charlie at camp decades ago. So Charlie and Phil buy the dilapidated Camp Driftwood, try to spiff it up, ignore the inspector's warning about a methane leak in the toilets (you can smell the forthcoming joke from a mile off), and attempt to retain campers who ditch for Camp Canola. Charlie even enlists his spit-and-shine military dad for help. But despite cute kids, tough dads, and problems controlling bed-wetting and farts, Daddy Day Camp should just limp off to the nurse's tent and call it quits. If we were judging on a flatulence scale, Daddy Day Camp would earn at least three farts. But on the star scale, the wind kind of gets knocked out of its sales.

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