The blurb on the front of the Blu-ray case for Daddy Day Camp says, "Daddy Day Camp is one of the funniest family comedies you'll see this year!" by Earl Dittman of Wireless Magazine. Now at first impression, I was thinking of that whole correlation to cell phones and brain cancer thing, but upon further review (thanks to the Movie Poop Shoot and eFilmCritic websites), Earl Dittman has heaped effusive praise on such films as 40 Days and 40 Nights, Son of the Mask and Maid in Manhattan, so maybe he's filling a niche for publicity that every film, good or bad, might want. Then I read that he liked Boat Trip, another waste of time starring Cuba Gooding Jr., and I could see why he was effusive.
Now don't get me wrong, I like family films every so often, and I'm cognizant of the economics of entertainment to know that Daddy Day Care made over $100 million, so it was natural and understandable for a sequel to come. I wasn't expecting a sequel with the same characters, and completely different actors. The role of Charlie Hinton was handed from Eddie Murphy to Gooding, while his friend Phil went from Jeff Garlin of Curb Your Enthusiasm, to some guy named Phil Rae (Coach Carter). So Gooding and Rae are a collective Dick Sargent of sorts, which I guess might make Dittman's praise a little on the David Manning tip? Well, all that aside, Daddy Day Camp came and went in theatres rather quickly, barely making $10 million and thus putting a nail in the coffin of whatever "franchise" the Daddy Day series might have wrought.
To ensure that as many parties are known to you and the class action lawsuit against Sony can be initiated, Daddy Day Care was written by Geoff Rodkey (RV), J. David Stern and David Weiss (Are We There Yet?) and directed by Fred Savage. Yep, little Kevin Arnold is now directing bad children's films. So Charlie and Phil invest their day care money into a broken down summer camp named Camp Driftwood, one that Charlie went to as a kid, and they are left with their fixer-upper while the rival Camp Canola is headed by Lance Warner (Lochlyn Munro, The Benchwarmers), who tries to humiliate Charlie and Phil while trying to take their camp in an attempt to expand his own.
The film is pretty much devoid of any real ideas and is just a carbon copy of Meatballs, minus the jokes. You've got your wacky cast of characters, in this case the kids, of course. Charlie's son Ben is the equivalent of Rudy. An invented storyline with Charlie trying to make sure he gets back every red cent he's put into the camp, combined with a storyline of him trying to reconcile with his father, who's a military man, is supposed to give you the impression of caring. But by that point, you're exposed to so many bad jokes and so much unoriginal storytelling, what's the point really? I would have stuck needles underneath my fingernails for 89 minutes to avoid the pain that I had to endure watching Daddy Day Camp. Or better yet, a sodium pentathol injection to one Earl Dittman to figure out what he's on when he reviews films and, perhaps more importantly, how I can get some.
The Blu-ray Disc:
The 1.85:1 widescreen presentation uses the AVC MPEG-4 codec, as is the case with most Sony releases to date. The picture looks pretty clear and crisp and colors are reproduced well, though what few blacks that take up the picture don't really seem to provide a lot of contrast for anything else in the feature. The image doesn't really possess a lot of background depth, but the overall clarity seems to make up for it.
There's a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack for the disc, though it's remarkably average. Watching water balloons and eggs hitting an antagonist sound fairly clear, though there's not a lot of panning or directional effects in these scenes, or many others for that matter. The subwoofer gets a chance to do some work in maybe two or three scenes the entire film, and it was an underwhelming effort.
Not much, though to be fair it's not like the feature was worth writing home about to begin with. A twelve-minute look at the making of the film, titled "How I Spent My Summer", features the requisite interviews from the cast and Savage as they talk about the film and working with a guy who won an Oscar. There's also a ten question quiz titled "What I Learned At Camp" that pulls the questions from the making of featurette. When your wife sits down and looks at the quiz, without having seen the film, and can answer a question or two, you can get the idea of how predictable it is. Trailers for other underachieving Sony family films Surf's Up and Are We Done Yet? round out the disc.
It's kind of funny, or even ironic that a trailer for Are We Done Yet? is included on the disc for Daddy Day Care. Both films feature talented African-American performers, both films were released by Sony, and the star of each finds themself in "fish out of water" circumstances. Oh yeah, both films stink to high heaven. They might look and sound good, but prolonged exposure might tend to cause long-term damage to the cerebral cortex, kind of like living with Jennifer Lopez. Pass on by this title.