Daddy Day Camp (PG)

Comedy 93 August 8, 2007
By Tim Grierson
As the child star at the center of The Wonder Years, Fred Savage convincingly portrayed a sensitive young boy with such sweet optimism that you believed that the character (and the actor) would carry that idealistic spark into adulthood. We may never know what became of Kevin Arnold, but after years of paying dues helming disposable kiddie TV, the 31-year-old Savage has clawed his way into the director's chair of his first feature, the depressingly shrill Daddy Day Camp. A sequel to 2003's Daddy Day Care, the new film brings back clueless suburban dads Charlie (Cuba Gooding Jr.) and Phil (Paul Rae) to rescue their beloved childhood summer camp, which faces foreclosure. (Curiously, the film doesn't explain why the two men no longer look like Eddie Murphy and Jeff Garlin.) There's no point being highbrow about a film that relies on the typical fart-puke-nuts-kaboom brand of family comedy, but Savage's lethargic, impersonal approach can't even make Camp's gross-out moments appropriately revolting. As for the child performers, not a one of them displays any wit or recognizable human emotion. At this rate, they'll never get a chance to direct something this terrible when they're older.
Fred Savage Cuba Gooding Jr., Paul Rae, Lochlyn Munro, Richard Gant, Spencir Bridges, Josh McLerran, Talon G. Ackerman, Tamala Jones, Brian Doyle-Murray, Taggart Hurtubise David N. Weiss Chris Emerson Sony Pictures

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