Daddy Day Camp

Starring Cuba Gooding Jr,, Lochlyn Munro and Richard Gant. Directed by Fred Savage.
Running Time: 89 minutes.
Rated: Rated PG (infrequent mild coarse language)
Fred Savage used to be the young boy from TV's The Wonder Years. Looking at this film, we might wonder how he can bear to go back to the themes of those days and make this comedy for, probably, 8 year old boys. It is one of those raucous shows where the kids are shown as rowdy, greedy, thoughtless, pushy, fight-loving, over-competitive and generally obnoxious - and all for laughs.

Distracted at the behaviour of the kids and the slapstick, the word to describe this came to mind: Bratfalls. (So, the experience was not entirely wasted.)

The other dismaying thing about presenting American kids like this is that too often they are seen as knowing little adults rather than kids. And when Colonel Buck arrives at the camp to get them ( a ragtag group) into shape to beat their rivals at the nearby camp which has all the mod cons, he so instils army discipline into them that one almost expected him not to urge them to win the egg and spoon race but, instead, to invade Iraq. And they would have done it!

But, then the screenplay moves towards the side of loving but exasperated father, Cuba Gooding Jr, who suffered under his militaristic father but who is considered overprotective with his own son. While our misfit champions win the contest (the affluent are cheaters but the little guys have a few tricks up their sleeve, which, of course, are not cheating just using their wits for comeuppance), the film ends with some warm hugs and love is in the air.

These review thoughts are those of an adult watching Daddy Day Camp. The target audience will just go with the jingoistic, then love, flow.

Sony Out 29th November

Fr Peter Malone MSC directs the film desk of SIGNIS: the World Association of Catholic Communicators, and is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.