I am so glad Emily Osment did a DCOM during her Hannah Montana days. I remember when Dadnapped (directed by the great Paul Hoen) came out, but it’s been a long time now. There was a lot about this film that I didn’t remember, but it’s still fun to watch. Osment plays Melissa Morris, and her dad, Neal Morris (played by George Newbern, aka Bryan Mackenzie from Father of the Bride), is a famous author.
Melissa’s parents are divorced, and she’s excited to spend some time with her dad on vacation. This is a sad case of a parent caring way more about their work than they do their kid. Neal’s books are his life, and Melissa thinks she’s finally going to escape that for a weekend. But instead of going camping right away, Neal tells her they’re going to pull off at a convention for his books, the Trip Zoome series. Melissa becomes understandably upset when her dad keeps pushing off the departure time so that he can stay at the motel with all his fans.
We quickly see the sheer volume of other Disney Channel stars in this movie: David Henrie, Moises Arias, Phill Lewis, Jason Earles — all of whom are kidnappers. Moises Arias, David Henrie, and Denzel Whitaker aren’t really bad guys. They’re just crazed fans who are living out weird fantasies from Neal’s books. The real kidnappers have a much stranger purpose: they want Neal to revise a book written by a dude named Skunk.
The good fans rally together to try to save their favorite author while he and Melissa are stuck trying to fix Skunk’s book. We get a true bop from Emily Osment, “Hero in Me.” Neal tells Melissa that she is his inspiration and reason for writing. Things get interesting when Jason Earles’ character, Merv the motel proprietor, reveals that he is holding them hostage to get “the last Neal Morris book,” not to help Skunk become a better writer. Merv has Melissa locked up while Neal Morris writes under duress. While in confinement, Melissa continues channeling the Trip Zoome character for ideas. She alerts the fandom for help from her window, and they set off “super stinky cheese bombs.” That does the trick. It’s a mad dash to stop the chaos, with Melissa getting away and rescuing her father from Merv, with the help of the Trip Zoome fans.
If you want to watch a DCOM that is totally different from any others, this is a good place to start. I sometimes associate it with Bad Hair Day because both involve a minor riding around town with a strange adult. And both involve a father being kidnapped. But this one is very different in that it’s a dad and daughter story at heart. They hug at the end and depart from the convention to take the camping trip they were supposed to take all along. It’s pretty cute when David Henrie’s character asks Melissa out on a date. With the wild fans, the messy, slimy rescue plans, and the father-daughter message, this is a fun movie.