Daddy Day Camp

Sony Pictures

Review in a Hurry:  Cuba Gooding Jr.'s career has gone from "Show me the money!" to "Show me a new agent!" This film is another example of how winning an Oscar doesn't guarantee crap. Although, speaking of crap, this supposedly family-friendly romp is full of it, literally and figuratively.

The Bigger Picture:  After Dreamgirls, Eddie Murphy, who starred in the hit Daddy Day Care, probably wouldn't have touched this sequel with a 10-foot pole, so it was up to another star ready for a comeback to take his place. No explanation is offered for why Charlie Hinton (Gooding Jr.) and Phil Ryerson (Paul Rae) are embodied by completely different people than in the first picture, but logic is not this movie's strong suit.

Poop/fart/vomit jokes and displays of adult incompetence, on the other hand, are. You know you're in for a tedious time when not five minutes into a movie there’s a kid peeing into a potted plant.

Charlie and Phil run the most popular day care in town, but when their kids want to go to day camp, they find that their old stomping ground, Camp Driftwood, has drifted into oblivion. Rival operation Camp Canola is run by Charlie's childhood enemy Lance Warner (Lochlyn Munro), and sensing an opportunity for long-due vengeance, Charlie and Phil take over the camp.

Charlie and Phil nearly destroy the place in the first week, while suffering surprise attacks by Lance and his Canolas. Reluctantly, Charlie calls in his dad, military man Buck Hinton (Richard Gant), to rally the troops. This is where the movie improves, from unbearable to tolerable—Gant lets a little sweetness invade his gruff demeanor, winning over the kids, and us, too.

But it's too little, too late. The writing team and director Fred Savage (yes, that one) wasted many a chance to mine the plethora of mishaps the plot provides. It's all obtusely broad and ridiculous, and the dreaded "life lessons" drag it out interminably. Parents will cringe during the grody parts and kids will yawn during the weepy ones. In the end, no one will be satisfied—except perhaps for Cuba Gooding Jr.’s agent.

The 180—a Second Opinion:  There are a lot of positive role models here, and a heartwarming message, too. In the end, Daddy Day Camp is acceptable viewing for families, though perhaps no one should visit the concession bar beforehand. And maybe not for a good while afterward, either.

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