Saturday, June 25, 2011

Worst of the Worst: #16, Daddy Day Camp

The future rocks. With six of these movies left to go and only the #1 movie (Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever) which I plan to watch last, on Netflix Watch Instantly, I've been trying to find these movies anywhere I can to quicken the process of having to wait for Netflix disk turnover. I regularly search the FIOS TV listings on-line and set my DVR accordingly and, sure enough, Daddy Day Camp was coming on Cartoon Network on Saturday evening. At the same time that I was getting on a plane to go to California. My hope is to finish the list by the end of July, so I didn't love the idea of having to lose ten days or so. But. The plane had satellite television service, which included Cartoon Network. I was reminded of the movie when put the station on to calm a crying baby and was informed that Daddy Day Camp was coming up next. I plugged in my earphones, settled down, and prepared to watch.

Now, it's quite possible that movies seem better than they should on a plane. Since one can assume that a better-than-average movie is, by definition, better than at least half of all movies, there is at least a 50% chance that a movie shown on a plane (or, I suppose, on a TV network carried on a plane) is going to be bad. I've watched Hitch and The Pacifier on a plane. Once, in a show of utter cruelty, a flight even tortured its confined passengers with Batman and Robin. Because there is this real chance that the movie is going to be bad, we may lower our expectations. Anything to get through the next couple of hours without having to talk to anyone, worrying about the sleeping person next to us having their head roll over onto our shoulders, or praying that everyone around us isn't just farting and hiding the sound under the engines.

When it comes to Daddy Day Camp, though, I don't think my expectations could be raised at all. The original Daddy Day Care had its funny moments, but it also starred Eddie Murphy, Jeff Garlin, and Steve Zahn, all capable of being funny. The sequel stars Cuba Gooding, Jr. (Brendan Fraser laughs at his movie choices), a guy who sort of looks like Jeff Garlin, and a guy who doesn't look at all like Steve Zahn. On top of that, it has one of the least original plots to come around since Shakespeare stole all of his work from Francis Bacon and Kit Marlowe. I felt like I needed to mention Shakespeare, Bacon, and Marlowe in this review. The three guys run a camp. It's dilapidated. Only losers go there. There's a camp next door with more resources and a take-no-prisoners owner. If the loser camp doesn't beat the awesome camp in some sort of contrived set of games, the loser camp will fold. I'm pretty sure this story was originally conceived in cave paintings 30,000 years ago. You know it's going to be slapstick. You know Gooding is going to disgrace himself, his family, and his species. You know there is going to be fart and/or poop humor (there's both). You couldn't possibly raise your expectations because this movie has "garbage" written all over it.

Then, something funny happens. The movie lives up to that expectation. It isn't better than you expect, but it isn't worse, either. It is exactly what I expected it to be and that, in some weird way, makes it not that bad. It is exactly what you think it is. It's not going to shock you with its badness, not going to make your jaw drop with its ineptitude. It is what you thought it was. Maybe I was apathetic because I was on a plane, praying that the baby next to me would go to sleep -- praying harder because she was mine -- but I really do think it was just boringly average compared to my expectation and that's just good enough for me not to savage it. And I still like Cuba Gooding, Jr. Somehow.


I was inspired to rethink this blog, so coming soon -- perhaps, Sunday -- will be a bit of a reboot. All pop culture, most likely all long-form essays. More promotion in social media. First up: why X-Men: First Class is both an entertaining movie and much more of a failure than the mostly unentertaining Thor.


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