September 4, 2003

Camp

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Camp is about a musical theatre camp for kids aged six through sixteen. And you guessed it: all the guys are gay, Sondheim is a god, and no one even knows who Neil Young is in this cheesy film that lacks good acting and a decently written script. With so much potential (come on, you have to admit that it could be entertaining), the movie’s storyline is just atrocious. The camp in the movie is based on a real one in upstate New York, which was attended by Robert Downey Jr. Now that could have made for a good movie.

On the first day of camp, Vlad (Daniel Letterle) shows up as the new kid who has not spent all of his summers there, as everyone else has. But, there is a surprise: he is actually STRAIGHT! (Insert “gasp” here.) What will everyone do? The sappy script starts off from here and just goes downward. With ugly duckling Ellen (Joanna Chilcoat) hot on his heels, stupid teenage crushes (from pretty much everyone) surround Vlad.

As the summer goes on, many different plays are produced at the camp as the kids vie for roles. Bert Hanley (Don Dixon) stars as the alcoholic director whose previous attempts at writing flopped, so he is now directing musically inclined kids.

I guess Camp really is not as bad as I made it seem in the first paragraph, but some aspects of the script are just so awful that you really cannot get past them. There are some of your good old classic gay/theatre jokes as well as entertaining one-liners here and there.

Most of the supporting characters were quite funny in their underutilized roles, especially Anna Kendrick as Fritzi and Alana Allen as Jill. These two stole the screen as Fritzi waited on her gorgeous roommate Jill hand and foot and was at her beck and call at all times.

And on the other side of the acting spectrum, acne-faced Robin de Jesus was horrible as the token cross-dresser whose parents do not support his lifestyle. Every movie has a token cross-dresser whose parents do not support his lifestyle, right?

The music/soundtrack was absolutely fantastic. Since it does not look like acting is in any of these Camp stars’ futures, it is a good thing they all have singing to fall back on. And, boy, they really can sing well. The best parts of this movie where when the kids were performing; everything else between was just useless fluff. Unlike the script, the songs they have to depend on are actually good. Sondheim is, of course, well represented with a great rendition of “Losing My Mind,” among other songs. Steve is also largely to thank for the rest of the soundtrack, which was made possible when he agreed to donate his music for free and talked other artists into doing the same. He also has a cameo.

It seems like the director (Todd Graff — actually a grad from SUNY-Purchase) did the best he could due to the circumstances of this horribly written movie. Oh wait, he also wrote it as well, killing any chance of this movie being success. Yes, people will go see it because it is a unique idea. But they’ll probably ask for their money back afterwards.

Due to the fantastic success of Chicago and Moulin Rouge, the musical is back in action. But movies about kids at a musical theatre camp are not. Maybe a musical about kids at a musical theatre camp would have worked.

Archived article by Cory Sinclair

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