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Camp
2003 - PG-13 - 114 Mins.
Director: Todd Graff
Producer: Danny DeVito, Pamela Koffler, Katie Roumel, Stacey Sher
Written By: Todd Graff
Starring: Daniel Letterle, Brittany Pollack, Joanna Chilcoat, Robin de Jesus, Steven Cutts
Review by: Joe Rickey
   
A film about a music/acting oriented summer camp for kids and teens and the adventures and misadventures they encounter while staying at Camp Ovation, Camp is a surprisingly bland film that glosses over various subplots but does show heart and energy at times which makes it all the more disappointing that more doesn’t work in the film than what does work. Director Todd Graff has a film that has more disappointing about it than what it could have been had he had a more focused direction in the beginning.

Camp mixes drama with romance and comedy. The comedic portion of the film works the best because the actors have liveliness about that makes the comedy go over pretty well despite the sometimes-lackluster dialogue. They seem to rejoice in the comedic material and therefore it has the most impact on the viewer. The characters themselves lend themselves to a comedy because they all have traits that are played off for humor such as a self-professed drag queen that flaunts about the camp.

The musical portions of the film are well done in their own right. The vocals are surprisingly effective and professional. The songs are varied in style, which ensures that you don’t tire of them because of repetition of music type.

However, the actors don’t seem to engross themselves into the more romantic and dramatic portions of the film. They seem like they are unfocused and bored while delivering lines that are supposed to carry dramatic weight but simply do not because the acting is not up to par. The romantic portion of the film crosses both genders, as there is a gay romantic subplot along with a straight one. Neither one works all that well unfortunately.

Director Todd Graff based his script on personal experiences at a camp similar to Camp Ovation. For that reason it is quite strange that Camp is almost always much too corny and sloppily written when the film demanded a strong script to shine. The film also lacks the requisite amount of realism that would have helped the film feel more like an authentic experience at such a place as Camp Ovation. Graff struggles with discovering the perfect pacing to the film. He also struggles with exactly what type of film he wants Camp to be. Is it a comedy? A musical? A romance? It’s hard to tell and I wonder if Todd Graff even knows what genre Camp would fit in? Sure, including different styles of storytelling into one picture might at first seem to be innovative and altogether different. And it is. The problem is that to do so effectively requires a writer and director of great skill, which Todd Graff is not quite an example of yet. He shows some flares of brilliance here and there but fails when one looks at the whole picture.
 
Movie Guru Rating
Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better. Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better.
  2 out of 5 stars

 
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