Hey, friends! We’re onto the next movie of my series of Disney Channel Original Movie reviews. If you’re new here, I’m in the process of reviewing DCOMs that start with the letters of my first name! So far, I’ve reviewed the Descendants trilogy (start here) and now I’m onto Dadnapped. Dadnapped is one of those DCOMs that I watched when it premiered, and it quickly became one of my faves. Needless to say, I was super curious to see how much I would like it all these years later.
Dadnapped premiered on Disney Channel in 2009, and features some very familiar faces (Emily Osment, David Henrie, Moises Aries, Jason Earles, Phill Lewis, etc). Emily Osment plays Melissa Morris, a fifteen year-old who will do anything to get her dad’s attention away from his best selling Tripp Zoome novels. Melissa thinks she’s finally succeeded when they embark on their planned, father-daughter camping trip. That is, until her dad announces his short pit-stop at the Mercury Tripp Zoome Convention. However, when Melissa and her Dad are kidnapped by Tripp Zoome fanatics, Melissa has to start thinking like her dad’s beloved main character in order to save them both.
I remember loving the concept of Dadnapped when I first watched it, and that same sentiment held up today. In Neal’s fictional bestselling book series, Tripp Zoome’s character is a super-spy that fights crime. In the film, there is an entire fandom surrounding the Tripp Zoome books that felt super authentic. Throughout the movie, the Tripp Zoome fans use a ton of catchphrases from the books, and then they eventually bring some of his cool inventions to life. The Zoome-Con that Neal and Melissa attend actually holds a contest to see which fan is most like Tripp, so we see a lot of fun recreations from dressed-up superfans. It was really fun to watch! The use of the book as a source point in the film could have been so easy to mess up. It gives the writers free reign to make anything happen. But in the end, it worked extremely well. I also liked how the story didn’t take itself too seriously. It’s very self-aware and there are a few moments where I honestly laughed out loud. There are even some “unexpected” turn of events that occur throughout, which made me want to keep watching.
Melissa’s character is the only one in the entire movie who’s not a Tripp Zoome fan. She believes that her dad puts Tripp before her and that she’ll never measure up to such a perfect, fictional hero. And of course, unexpectedly throwing her into the middle of a convention for Tripp Zoome fanatics during their father-daughter trip probably doesn’t help her father’s case. The setting worked well in displaying how different Melissa was from her surroundings, and it also highlighted a great performance from Emily Osment. The relationship between Melissa and her dad is pretty fragile, and we see them struggle with it over the course of the film. Melissa is a frustrated fifteen year-old, but Emily Osment didn’t overdo it. Instead, she really made us feel for her. The incredibly catchy “Hero In Me” song sung by Emily herself is also a staple in this film. I loved this song back in the day, and it put a smile on my face to hear it again after so many years.
The main group of Tripp Zoome fanatics, Wheeze (played by David Henrie), Andre (played by Moises Aries), and Sheldon (played by Denzel Whitaker) function mainly as comedic relief in the film. They face off with Neal and Melissa’s kidnappers by using experiments from the Tripp Zoome books, and they have a really fun dynamic. It was a bit silly at times, but just enough to get a laugh out of me.
The antagonists were probably the only weak point of the film for me. Phill Lewis is one of the antagonists from the very beginning, and I guess it was hard to view him as anyone but Mr. Moseby from The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. The villains aren’t meant to be taken very seriously so it wasn’t a huge problem, it was just something I noticed.
Overall, I loved the message in the film about how powerful the act of reading books can be. I feel like we didn’t see that often on the Disney Channel, so it was cool that bookworms got the spotlight for a change! I probably didn’t pick up on that message when I was younger, but I’m glad I rewatched the movie in a new light.
Dadnapped is a pretty strong DCOM. If you’re looking for a lighthearted story with great writing and fun acting, then I’d give this one a watch!