Follow TV Tropes


Film / Dadnapped

Go To

Dadnapped is a 2009 Disney Channel Original Movie starring Emily Osment, David Henrie, and George Newbern, among other Disney Channel actors.

Melissa and her father are going on a vacation together, and while she's excited to spend time with him, she's also nervous. Her father, Neal Morris, is a famous, best-selling author with a highly devoted fanbase, all obsessed with his Tripp Zoome series. So, when they need to take an immediate detour to visit Neal's fans at a convention, the vacation is already off to a rocky start.

However, things take a turn when her dad gets "dadnapped"- not once, but twice. Melissa will need to think like her dad's most beloved character to save him, along with the help of the fans.

This film contains examples of:

  • Added Alliterative Appeal: An In-Universe example are the titles of various Tripp Zoome books, such as Zip, Zoome, Zilch and The Tripp of Time.
  • Affably Evil: Merv early on is as friendly and welcoming as a hotel owner can be, taking pride in his job and the honor of hosting the Tripp Zoome convention. The first sign he's up to something is also packaged in friendliness when he gives Neal and Melissa the presidential suite and tells Neal: "Welcome home," under his breath. His motivation also is pretty humble: he wants money from selling Neal's final book not for a life of luxury, but so he can become the hotel owner of a fancier hotel named after him.
  • Amicable Exes: Neal and his wife are divorced, but they get along well and while Melissa may be the one reason they stay in contact, they're mutual niceness is genuine and not just for her sake.
  • Armor-Piercing Response: Tripp deals Melissa a low blow when she tells him she's not going to personally save her father because in the real world 15-year olds rely on the cops and adults in their lives. Tripp sarcastically tells her she's right, adding on that "that's why [her] father writes about [him], not [her]." It provokes Melissa into action.
  • A-Team Montage: Wheeze and his crew get all Zoomers at the Tripp Zoome convention to help save Neal (and Melissa). This leads to a short montage of the Zoomers setting up a plan and creating various Tripp-Traps needed for said plan.
  • Bruiser with a Soft Center: Skunk is the largest character in the movie, strong, and a villain. But he's got the emotional intelligence of a child and absolutely adores Neal's books. While Maurice does all the threatening to make their captives comply, Skunk concerns himself with making them comfortable. For what the circumstances allow, Neal and Melissa do feel good about teaching Skunk how to write in a way that interests an audience.
  • Butt-Monkey: Melissa ends up Covered in Gunge and going through humiliating situations, like when at a carwash to look for Neal, Wheeze, Sheldon, and Andre push Merv's convertible into the carwash, with both and Melissa in, leading to both of being covered in soapsuds after Melissa fails to find the brake, only to find it after getting out of the carwash.
  • Character Catchphrase: In-Universe, Tripp has "Floss", which Melissa finds to be a cheesy and stupid catchphrase, despite all the fans using it just as often.
  • Chained Heat: Melissa cuffs herself to her father after his first abduction so they can't be separated again. When Neal gets abducted a second time, she's abducted along.
  • Clone Army: Implied to be an element of Zoome Time Boom Time. Tripp creates a signal to lead the "cloned rebels" to him to save him.
  • Crying Wolf: A reason the police is dismissive of Melissa's call that her father has been abducted is that she's calling from the Tripp Zoome convention. All day long, the station has been getting calls from there from trolling or delusional fans about spies, robots, and double agents, so the abduction story doesn't sound any more legit. A later call by Sheldon isn't any more successful for the same reason and only adds to the police interpreting the calls as a prank.
  • Damsel in Distress: The one scene of Tina, one of the Trip Zoome characters, shows her being menaced by the villainous Rudolpho until Tripp runs in to save her.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Maurice and Skunk turn against Merv when he A.) insults Skunk's desire to be a writer, and B.) demands they help him commit murder with the threat of jail time for the abduction they've already committed. They prevent his escape from an angry horde of Zoomers backed up by the police.
  • Drive-In Theater: Maurice's and Skunk's home is an abandoned drive-in theater. It's still being supplied with electricity, making it a comfortable and cheap residence.
  • Emerging from the Shadows: Played for Laughs. Sheldon is introduced with a sinister heavy voice calling Wheeze, who is turned away from the viewer and obscured in shadow, about "the package" (ie, Neal) having arrived. Wheeze gives Sheldon further instructions, then turns around, allowing the new angle to illuminate him just fine, as he tells Sheldon to drop the fake voice because it's creepy.
  • Eternally Pearly-White Teeth: Played for Laughs. Melissa reads up on the Tripp Zoome Tearjerker to make sense of what happened at the convention hall. The passage absurdly ends with "[Tripp] smiled, his perfect teeth aglitter." Upon reaching this line, Melissa glances at a Tripp cardboard cutout, which obnoxiously smiles back at her showing off his perfect teeth.
  • Eye Am Watching You: Tripp makes the gesture to Melissa when she steps out of the hotel to take action on saving her father herself. The implication is that he supports her but also that she has to impress him.
  • Forced Creativity: Neal Morris and his daughter Melissa are kidnapped by an evil hotel manager named Merv and two Minion with an F in Evil henchmen. While the henchmen are also passionate about writing and just want Neal to edit a story one of them wrote, Merv wants Neal to write a book that he'll make all the money off of.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The main villains of the Trip Zoome books are the members of SCUM. It's not elaborated what "SCUM" stands for.
  • Hollywood Board Games: Wheeze can play a Scrabble knock off while coordinating someone's kidnapping. And he's winning the game! His Love Interest, Melissa, won the aforementioned game's regional tournament twice. They bond over it.
  • Humiliation Conga: While Maurice and Skunk are just arrested, Merv is left for a bit with the Zoomers so they can enact their own revenge. They bombard him with paints and juices, which he'd already gotten bombarded with plenty while at the convention and while trying to escape.
  • Hyper-Destructive Bouncing Ball: For the Tripp Zoome contest, a contestant recreates the Tripp-Trap Scrambler. One component is a hairbrush, which gets launched across the room when the makeshift machine explodes. It hits walls, a stand, nearly people, and breaks open a watermelon so it's good it didn't hit people. The crowd loves it, by the way.
  • Imaginary Friend: Neal's ostensible preference for Tripp causes Melissa to see him everywhere, in particular when imagery of him is around like a poster. Tripp talks to her a lot, in a way that seems to reflect her sense of selfworth. When she feels the lesser between the two, he taunts her but also pushes her to do what she needs to do to become his equal. When she learns that they're one and the same and that she, in every way, the real deal between them, Tripp becomes much nicer.
  • Impersonating an Officer: Maurice and Skunk dress up as cops to arrest Neal and abduct him. On one hand they're incompetent at the acting part, on the other Neal had earlier given his autograph to Skunk and therefore Neal knows he's not a real cop. Despite being found out, they bluff their way through the situation and abduct Neal as well as Melissa, who had cuffed herself to her dad.
  • Just Between You and Me: Any chance Merv's plan could've succeeded went right out of the window when he answered Melissa's question why he cares about Skunk's book while Skunk and Maurice are standing right next to him. Merv happily reveals that he doesn't care about Skunk's writing career, but that he wants it rewritten by Neal Morris so he can sell it as Neal Morris's last book — revealing he intends to murder Neal. For one, this creates urgency for Melisssa to escape, for two, this informs Skunk and Maurice that Merv is not their ally, and for three, this informs the duo Merv wants them to be complicit in murder which, despite all their threats, they did not sign up for.
  • Knight Templar Big Brother: Maurice is arguably the scariest character in the movie, taking charge of Neal's abduction and dishing out some pretty intimidating lines. But he does it all for his brother Skunk, whom he wants to see succeed as a writer and who needs a professional writer to improve his draft and teach how to think as a writer. Even Merv knows that to control Maurice, he has to dangle Skunk's wellbeing in front of him.
  • Love at First Sight: Melissa and Wheeze hit it off on their first meeting, which lasts two minutes tops. They find kinship in their enthusiasm and talent for Word Wham! Andre witnesses the exchange and incredulously berates his brother for not having the guts to ask Melissa's number.
  • MacGyvering: Tripp Zoome's adventures involve a lot of getting through situations by finding new uses for whatever is available. His creations are colloquially known as Tripp-Traps. At the convention, the fans discuss and recreate several makeshift instruments from the books. Then Neal gets dadnapped by means of some of these Tripp-Traps and has to be saved with even more Tripp-Traps. Neal's pretty enthusiastic that all his ideas actually work in real-life.
  • Omniglot: Tripp speaks ten languages fluently, although Neal does not elaborate on which ones they are. Obviously, one of them is English and Chinese is a logical candidate because one of Tripp's colleagues is Chinese.
  • Onion Tears: Wheeze's crew's plan to abduct Neal begins with recreating the Tearjerker from the Tripp Zoome books. It's an onion mill that spritzes the freshly squeezed onion juice into the convention hall, where everyone starts tearing up and coughing and looking for a way out.
  • Police Are Useless: Melissa's first action upon seeing recorded evidence that her father has been abducted is to call the police. They're not interested, even before knowing she's calling from the Tripp Zoome convention from which they've already gotten plenty of moronic calls, and tell her to come to the station to fill out a report only if he's been missing for 48 hours.
  • Portmantitle: The title is a combination of "dad" and "kidnapped".
  • "Reading Is Cool" Aesop: The film could've easily gone without the aesop, because there's no anti-reading force present at all. Yet when Wheeze is given the mic for a commentary on the crazy events of the past 24 hours, he tells about how his parents don't get his love for Tripp Zoome and thus he wants to say: "Reading rocks!"
  • Red Right Hand: Rudolpho, a Tripp Zoome villain, has a deformed left half of his face. It's scarred and his pupil is foggy. Compared to the flawless agents Tina and Tripp, he's easily recognizable as the villain of the story. Tripp even enters the scene asking if he's gotten uglier.
  • Scary Black Man: Maurice is one of only three named black characters in the film and he's by far the most intimidating character of the entire cast. Skunk (white) may be bigger, but he's childlike, and Merv (also white) may be the true villain, but he's affably evil. Maurice has no omnipresent quality to counter his intimidation factor and he gets the bulk of threatening lines.
  • Shipper on Deck: Andre pushes his brother Wheeze to Melissa from the moment he sees them interact. He's very happy when they finally hold hands.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Metaphorically and averted in Melissa and Tripp. Melissa is an only child to divorced parents. She lives with her mother, leaving her father to build his life around his metaphorical son Tripp. The first showing that Tripp's prominence in her father's life overshadows hers is when she picks up a family photo of her framed by her parents and imagines Tripp standing next to her father, behind but between her and him. She continues to imagine Tripp talking to her whenever she sees a depiction of him, which at first makes for unpleasant interaction. After Melissa goes through an adventure like Tripp's and hears from her father that Tripp is her fictional counterpart, the "siblings" become cordial.
  • Slipping into Stink: When Merv is chased down by a horde of Tripp Zoome fans, he trips and falls right in a pile of gunk.
  • Smart People Play Chess: Wheeze is introduced playing Word Wham! (ie, Scrabble) by himself while he coordinates Neal's abduction. He manages to spell "Zoome" crossed with "mat" for bonus points. Melissa, meanwhile, is a doule regional Word Wham! champion and the inspiration for Tripp Zoome, whose smarts are part of the reason the books are so popular. Their shared interest in Word Wham! is what opens Wheeze's and Melissa's romantic subplot.
  • So Proud of You: Maurice and Skunk end up going to jail. This ending is softened when Skunk demonstrates he's learned a lot from his time with Neal and Melissa and mentions that Fyodor Dostoevsky also got a lot of quality writing done while incarcerated. Maurice is positively thrilled with Skunk's progress and ambition and proudly tells the cops leading them away that Skunk is his brother and a writer.
  • Spoiler Cover: The film goes through quite some trouble to hide that Merv is one of the villains. Too bad the cover has him stand in line nicely with all the other ones.
  • Trip Trap: Merv is finally defeated when Maurice and Skunk trip him into a pile of sludge, using a string of floss they've been tied up with earlier.
  • Vehicular Kidnapping: Neal gets abducted by Wheeze and his crew by first being subdued with onion spray and then being pushed into a van. As Wheeze drives, Sheldon and Andre spin Neal on a chair both to further disorient him and to tangle him up in floss. After they let him got, Neal and Melissa both get abducted by means of a van by Maurice and Skunk. They spend a lot of time in that van while Maurice decides on a good course of action.
  • When You Coming Home, Dad?: Neal is oblivious to the fact that he's not giving Melissa the priority she needs as his daughter. When he comes to get her for a camping trip, he comes in talking to his ex about Tripp Zoome and she has to remind him to ask about Melissa. And only a few minutes into the car ride, with a cardboard cutout of Tripp in the backseat, he admits to Melissa that they'll first drop by a Tripp Zoome convention. A small but meaningful insult to injury is that Neil enters the convention building first, letting Melissa carry the cardboard cutout and not holding the door open for her. He also promises Melissa they'll be off in a few hours as soon as the convention contest is over, but to the crowd he says he's here with them and not going anywhere. That's the first time he is shown realizing he's doing something wrong when he sees Melissa in the back of the room. Of course, by the end of the film he acknowledges the error of his ways and strives to be a better father.
  • Write Who You Know: In-Universe. Neal admits to Melissa that she is the inspiration behind everything he writes, up to and including the character of Tripp Zoome himself.
  • You Keep Using That Word: Skunk, trying to demonstrate his literary skill, calls adjusting a disguise to get any followers of one's track a "colander of deception". Maurice tells him that he himself doesn't know what a "colander" is, but he knows it isn't used properly here.