Camp

| August 9, 2003

You should know up front that I am giving Camp a lot of leeway. None of the lead actors, in fact none of the actors have any previous movie experience more than “woman in waiting room,” so anything negative would just be taking a cheap shot at a bunch of kids.
First, the story–a bunch of junior and senior high school kids meet for their annual summer break at Camp Ovation to work on their acting, dancing, and singing skills. At home they are pretty much all the freaks–you remember them as the kids who were in Drama. At Camp Ovation, they learn to become performers. This particular summer is the first for our lead character, Vlad (Daniel Letterle). Being the newest freak in a group of freaks, there is a certain ritual that goes on–the 30 foot rule.
That means that Michael, (Robin de Jesus) must stay at least 30 feet away until they find out if Vlad is straight or gay. In his first scene, Vlad is shown telling a mirror that if any of those critics have anything bad to say to him, he just doesn’t care. I am very glad to hear that because in a cast of very good performances, Letterle’s left me flat. He will get better, I am sure but I would like to have seen a more believable actor in the role. De Jesus, on the other hand did a very admirable job.
The love interest, as there must be in all teen flicks is Ellen, played very well by Joanna Chilcoat. She is among the most polished of the young performers and should get more work soon. Along with Chilcoat, Anna Kendrick was a standout. She plays Fritzi, a sexually questionable young lady who eventually overcomes a crush on another girl in some most interesting ways.
Camp is an enjoyable flick, but you need to understand that you are going to hear some very corny lines. The worst is uttered by a washed up songwriter who can only get gigs at places like Camp Ovation. Keep mind that he is a drunk who has just been given a new lease on life by the campers, when, speaking to the camp director, he utters what will be a classic camp line: “Summer is almost over…we should go out like professionals.” Oh dear.
There is enough comedy to make you laugh every few minutes and the musical numbers are very professional. My only problem was with overdubbing that was way off in many places. It was kind of like going to a Brittany Spears concert. If the kids did their own singing, even in post, there were some incredible voices. In addition to the before mentioned performers, Sasha Allen and Tiffany Taylor each have a great set of pipes.
There is a cameo by Stephen Sondheim, and if you keep in mind that I thought the movie should end when he leaves the screen, you will understand that I think the movie went about 10 minutes too long. The contrived ending between Letterle, Chilcoat and de Jesus was almost enough to get this movie panned.
Camp is very much worth the price of admission. There are enough laughs to keep you interested through the down times and the music is great. You will be entertained for the evening and that is why we go to the movies.

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