The father of three and married to his high school sweetheart since 1994, Gooding should be highly commended for making so many family-friendly movies in recent years.  However, this likeable Oscar-winner has far too much talent for films—family or not—where an overweight actor says things like, “Cross my heart and hope to diet!”  Show us the money, Cuba.  You can do better.

Gant and Rae also do decent jobs with their roles, as does little Bridges.  Munro’s overacting is a joke, however, and the kids are all so bad that it’s painful to watch.  They’re hampered by big stereotypes—the bully, the computer geek, the redneck—as well.

The one thing this film has going for it is messages.  Gooding and Gant are both good (though very different) role models.  They each care about kids and want them to achieve their best, in a way that develops integrity and character.  They’re like two sides of the same coin—one tough, one compassionate. 

One shows us that kids need discipline and order.  But to balance that out, Gooding then says, “Being tough doesn’t necessarily make you a hero.  Sometimes tough people grow up to be arrogant.  I want you to be kind and caring and accepting of people—even if they make mistakes.”  Finally, the fact that father and son finally reconcile and forgive one another (though unspoken) shows us both the power and the incredible importance of the father’s blessing. 

With such good—and rare—teaching, it’s such a shame that this is such a bad film.  And FYI, Hollywood, just because kids find body humor hilarious doesn’t mean we should be spoon-feeding it to them.

DVD EXTRAS:

  • “How I Spent My Summer:” Making Daddy Day Camp
  • What I Learned at Camp: Interactive Quiz in English & Spanish
  • Previews

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol:  None.
  • Language/Profanity:  Several “kid” obscenities like “crap,” “craphole,” “butthead.”
  • Sexual Content/Nudity:  Child references pornography (“nudie movies”) and another has a crush on a young girl.  Adult appears in tight, cartoon-covered underwear (seen front and back) after a prank.
  • Violence:  Mostly slapstick/physical comedy but also references to war with kid-style war games that include surprise “raids” in full military uniforms and paintball “weapons.”