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Camp  (2003)


Starring: Daniel Letterle, Joanna Chilcoat, Don Dixon

Director: Todd Graff

Rating: PG-13

Distributor: MGM Home Entertainment

Release Date: February 24, 2004
Review posted: March 3, 2004

Spoilers: None


Reviewed by Craig Younkin




Lonely isolated kids find solace in Camp Ovation, a song and dance camp that does a show every two weeks.




Camp is a movie that will probably touch those who are trying to get into theater the most. This movie offers us a wide array of stage actors and actresses that the theater demographic will probably be able to identify with. People who enjoy theater may also find this movie to be an interesting look. Otherwise it may be a mixed bag for anyone else. It isn't really all that funny and it represents a lot of clichés, but it is hard to condemn the film for that, especially since the deeper message here is that of self pride.


What is admirable about Camp is that it represents characters of different race, body type, and sexuality. Two characters that resonate with the audience are the fat black girl named Jenna (Tiffany Taylor) and the gay, drag queen character of Michael (Robin de Jesus). Jenna’s parents want her to lose weight and she lacks self confidence and Michael’s parents hate him because he's gay and he is beaten up at school, but even though these two characters are overly familiar, Taylor and de Jesus do an admirable job of playing the characters and find a few powerful moments to really shine.


Vlad (Daniel Letterle) is another character that works well, primarily because his quirk is the most original of all. He is the only straight guy at this camp as well as the most charismatic, but his problem is that he can't help but crave attention. He likes everybody at camp and he wants everybody to like him, which becomes a problem for Ellen (Joanna Chilcoat) who has never been in a relationship with anyone other than Vlad. Letterle brings a lot of charm to the role and Chilcoat finds vulnerability in Ellen, and together they share the movie's most tender scenes.


The song and dance numbers don't work all too well. This may be the biggest spot that separates what I think from what a theater crowd might think about this film. While energetic and kind of catchy, the song/dance numbers were instantly forgettable, and the comedy feels more weird than funny. Those more intoned with theater may disagree, but even if you’re not in love with the theater, these actors put on an enjoyable show. You’ll love their quirks, charms, and hearts.




MGM brings Camp to screen in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen.




MGM gives Camp an English 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround soundtrack. Optional English or Spanish subtitles are available.




The Making of Camp - Director Todd Graff talks about what inspired the film, as well how "deliriously fun and soulful" he wanted the dance numbers to be. We also see casting auditions, and it takes us through the rehearsal process with choreographers Michelle Lynch and Jerry Mitchell. The actors talk about their roles and how thrilled they are to be a part of Camp. There is also a short back story of why they used “Stagedoor Manor” as the set for the camp. But the real gems here are being able to hear Sasha Allan sing "How Should I See You Through My Tears" one more time and to see them get a standing 'O" from the 2003 Sundance Film Festival crowd.


Live Performance of "How Should I See You through My Tears" - The cast got together and sang this song during the closing night of the LA Film Festival.


Deleted Scenes - These are pretty worthless as they mean nothing to the overall direction of the movie. They continue the joke that no song and dance actor is interested in sports, and put in a few other stage scenes that make very little sense and showcase lesser characters.




I think this is a pretty good movie for those interested in theater. They may identify with these characters the most. The special features will also give them the chance to see stage actors living their dream of performing in a musical with so much talent involved. The average viewer, on the other hand, may feel a bit different, but he/she won't be able to deny the charm of the cast and the movie's well-meaning message.




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