Watching Daddy Day Camp is like eating an individually wrapped slice of American cheese. Despite a slight feeling of comfort, you realize that the stuff you liked as a child is bland and tastes a bit like plastic, and bears very little resemblance to the cheese that grown-ups enjoy. It's unappealingly artificial. But kids love the stuff -- their palates are unformed and they haven't yet learned to love applewood-smoked cheddar or Stinking Bishop or even a nice Swiss cheese. Daddy Day Camp is a healthy slice of American cheese, with an artificial and non-organic plot, plastic characterizations, and the most predictable physical humor it is possible to achieve in a family film. Still, the kids in the audience when I saw the film hooted with laughter at every barf joke and bathroom reference, and perhaps the pie-in-the-face humor seemed new to them.
Cuba Gooding, Jr. takes over the starring role played by Eddie Murphy in Daddy Day Care -- Charlie Hinton, who with his friend Phil (Paul Rae this go-round) founded a successful day-care business even though they didn't know much about taking care of kids. This time, their own boys are headed for summer day camp for the first time, which brings up traumatic memories for Charlie about his own camp experience and his dad's high expectations. It turns out that Charlie and Phil's old day camp, Camp Driftwood, is falling apart and about to be bought and leveled by the evil rich-kid camp nearby, which just so happens to be run by Charlie's childhood camp nemesis Lance (Lochlyn Munro). Anyone over the age of eight could predict that at this point, Charlie and Phil are going to run the camp themselves, that the bank holding the mortgage will set a deadline that they must meet to avoid losing the camp, and that kids and adults alike will all learn valuable life lessons about family and self-esteem.