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An extremely talented young cast shines in this "energetic musical romp" (Los Angeles Times)about a drama camp where the outcasts of today hone their skills to become the stars of tomorrow. Packed with romance, laughs and "genuine showstopping musical numbers" (The Washington Post), Camp is a "Blast of exuberant fun" (Rolling Stone)! Every summer, talented kids with big voices and even bigger dreams flock to Camp Ovation. But this year, a sexy new guy, Vlad (DanielLetterle), is not only stealing the show he's stealing the heart of every girl he encounters. And as the biggest day of camp approaches, the young performers must overcome backstabbing, unrequited love and Vlad's unpredictable libido to pull off the greatest show of their careers!
Charming and frequently hilarious, IFC Films' Camp is like Fame for the musical-theater set. It's set at Camp Ovation, a summer retreat for budding actors and singers who chant Stephen Sondheim's "Losing My Mind" on their bus rather than "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall." Into this environment comes a--gasp!--straight male, Vlad (Daniel Letterle), who turns upside down the lives of wallflower Ellen (Joanna Chilcoat), cross-dressing Michael (Robin DeJesus), and instructor Bert Hanley (Don Dixon), a frustrated one-hit-wonder composer. Camp was written and directed by Todd Graff, himself a Broadway veteran, based on his experiences at New York's musical camp Stagedoor Manor (which was attended by Natalie Portman and Robert Downey Jr., among others). The characters are a bit thin and the plot somewhat predictable, but the musical numbers are a lot of fun--older tunes are mixed with originals by Stephen Trask (Hedwig and the Angry Inch), Michael Gore (Fame), and Lynn Ahrens (Ragtime, Seussical the Musical)--and fans of musicals will love the many inside jokes, especially those relating to Sondheim. --David Horiuchi
- Deleted and extended scenes
- "The Making of Camp" featurette
- Live cast performance
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In several respects, it's not all that good if we're being honest. (At least, if you're not a teenager.) The plot is thin and really only held up by teenage melodrama; it's one of those movies that makes you look back at your own teen years and feel embarrassed at how much importance you placed on liking someone and whether they liked you back. There's a fair amount of ridiculousness throughout, and plenty of scenes that really just come across as overacted. I started out quite enjoying the subplot of Robin de Jesús's character - he's gay, and suffers for it, and Camp Ovation is obviously a safe haven for him - but even the resolution of that one left me with a raised eyebrow.
But despite its flaws, I still like this movie. It's got some terrific voices - including a young Anna Kendrick as Fritzi and a young Sasha Allen as Dee, as well as a few names who aren't quite as famous but still pretty incredible, like Tiffany Taylor. I will say that not all of them blew my socks off, though. Alana Allen and Joanna Chilcoat both have lead roles, and I confess, I'm not entirely sure why. Of course they're not BAD singers, but they're outclassed by some of the secondary characters. As for the songs themselves, I'll admit that some of them seem odd, or maybe out of place, but they're still awfully engaging, and there were a couple that I like very much. "Turkey Lurkey Time" (Promises, Promises) and "Ladies Who Lunch" (Company), of course, but there were several I hadn't heard before (not sure if they were originals written for the film or if they're just obscure) that I liked very well, too, particularly "I Sing For You" and "Here's Where I Stand." There were a few surprise moments of real humor, too...particularly in the scenes involving Anna Kendrick.
So while I couldn't call this film great, or even particularly good, there's just something about it that makes the flaws...well, maybe not charming, but at the very least, overlookable. And at the movie's base, we've got some awfully good music. I expect teenagers would really enjoy this, particularly any who are involved in the arts, or who maybe don't fit in all that well. And adults? It really depends on your expectations.
The 2 main characters in the movie are Vlad and Ellen. Vlad is the "new kid on the block", being new to the camp. Ellen is a seasoned camper, who has many friends among the other campers. Their interactions are at times hysterical.
More important than endless plot summary, is the actors themselves. As "Vlad", Daniel Letterle, is great. At the start of the movie, "Vlad's" sexual orientation is unknown, causing friends "Ellen" and "Michael" to have a friendly "bet" about who "Vlad" will end up with. Eventually, this gets resolved and a couple is formed.
"Ellen" is played by Johanna Chilcoat. WOW!!!! What a voice!!! All of her tender acting, and the self-doubt of her character is immediately vanished as soon as she belts out "And I am Telling You" from "Dreamgirls". It's a short scene, but has a huge impact.
Robin De Jesus plays "Michael", the VERY out gay boy dealing with recent trauma. Essentially a theater actor, Robin is fantastic as "Michael". He shows the mental affects of being a gay teen. The flashback scene is traumatic, just to watch.
There are 2 other actresses that require mention. Anna Kendrick, is a 2010 Oscar nominee for Best Supporting Actress. She is awesome as " Fritzie", a timid-acting nerdy girl with big theater aspirations. Those of you who have seen "All About Eve", will find "Fritzie" familiar. The difference is Bette Davis was an adult, Anna is a teenager. She is going to be huge, in part because she is in the George Clooney movie "Up in the Air". It's great that she is now being recognized.
Now its time for Tiffany Taylor. As, Jenna, she is the shinning star, at least vocally, of "Camp". She is at camp with her jaw wired because her overbearing father has some screwy definition of "fat". She mumbles through 99% of the movie. At the end, however, she sings "Here's Where I Stand," a Gospel triumph, to her father, as well as to everyone else. WOW! WOW! WOW!!! This is worth seeing, if nothing else.
The adults in this film are all secondary, except for Don Dixon, as Bert Hanley, a once-great musical composer, now a boozing loser. His interactions with the campers, and his scene with theater-legend Stephen Sondheim are perfectly acted.
This movie is one that most will wanna watch over and over. The acting is good, but it's the performances that make this movie so enjoyable.
My favorite part is the end because there's this super awesome song that gives me chills and tbh makes this movie like 10x better.