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'DADDY DAY CAMP' A COMEDY WILDERNESS

I'm a big Eddie Murphy fan, so back in 2003, I saw his movie Daddy Day Care. It was harmless fun, and I laughed at the jokes.

It must have made enough money, because it spawned the sequel Daddy Day Camp. But without Murphy or any of the original cast members, this jumbled mess should not be on the screen.

The movie starts four years after the first ended. Charlie Hinton (Cuba Gooding Jr. in the Murphy role) and his pal, Phil (Paul Rae), are throwing a party for the kids who attend their successful day care. When their sons ask if they can go to summer camp together, Charlie and Phil decide to start a program at their childhood camp, Camp Driftwood. Charlie takes out a second mortgage on his home to buy the camp, which was going to be torn down by the owner of a nicer nearby camp, and fix it up.

When few kids sign up, Charlie faces money woes that could force him to lose his home. But with the help of the kids who did sign on and his father, with whom he has a strained relationship, Charlie hopes to get enough money to solve his problems.

Sometimes, a weak plot can be overlooked if there are great actors and great jokes to make parents and kids laugh. But that is not the case here.

If the kids in the theater are hardly laughing at the lame jokes, then you know you probably don't have the family flick of the year.

Most of the non-bodily humor jokes are uninspired. And all of the cliches and stereotypes from previous kid flicks are here. The only character that I laughed about is the "redneck'' kid. But he wasn't funny; he just looked ridiculous. His name is Mullet. Need I say more?

Aside from the awful jokes, the acting is horrible. Gooding just can't take Murphy's place (even though he has an Oscar and Murphy doesn't).

If you already promised your kids you would take them to this movie, I can't help you. But maybe you can talk your kids into something - anything - else. This isn't worth your time.

Chase Shiflet, 14, will be in ninth grade at Blake High School in Tampa.

REVIEW

Daddy Day Camp

Grade: D-

Director: Fred Savage

Cast: Cuba Gooding Jr., Paul Rae, Lochlyn Munro, Richard Gant

Screenplay: Geoff Rodkey, Joel Cohen, Alec Sokolow

Rating: PG; mild bodily humor, language

Running time: 93 min.

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