Film-Forward Review: [CAMP]

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Directed by: Todd Graff.
Produced by: Katie Roumel, Christine Vachon & Pamela Koffler.
Written by: Graff.
Director of Photography: Kip Bogdahn.
Edited by: Myron Kerstein.
Music by: Stephen Trask.
Released by: IFC.
Country of Origin: USA. 114 min. Rated: PG-13.
With: Daniel Letterle, Joanna Chilcoat, Robin De Jesus, Anna Kendrick & Stephen Sondheim.
DVD Special Features: “The Making of Camp” featurette. Deleted and extended scenes. Live cast performance. Trailer.

At Camp Ovation, a training ground for aspiring actors, composer Stephen Sondheim is god (on the bus ride up, campers fervently sing not “Red Rover,” but “Losing My Mind”). Typical of teenager comedies, there are the standard stereotypes: the blond bitch Brittany, her psychotic sycophant Fritzi (Kendrick), the charming “Honest to God straight boy” Vlad (Letterle), every gay boy’s best friend Ellen (Chilcoat), along with the gay cross-dressing Latino Michael (De Jesus). During the course of the summer, friendships and romance revolve around the handsome Vlad. One doesn’t have to be a theater queen to appreciate Camp’s humor, but it wouldn’t hurt. Anyone would get the joke of teenage girl belting the middle-age anthem “The Ladies Who Lunch” or a white girl with a huge bouffant wig singing “And I’m Telling you I Ain’t Going.” And actors may easily identify with the torture endured by campers (or “you middle class piece of shit” as the pretentious director calls them) acting in an absurdist play. Even though many scenes and musical numbers go on too long, dragging the pace, Camp is eminently likable, especially with Kendrick’s hilarious and out-there performance. This is the savvy afterschool special that should have been made. Curiously, just as Vlad arrogantly makes assumptions about wallflower Ellen, the film assumes that Vlad is rightly the center of attention. But with this fine cast, many in their feature film debut, he has competition. Kent Turner
July 24, 2003

DVD Extras: The deleted scenes, which are definitely worth checking out, include a full tap dance number starring the young boy, Petie, and his tap teacher. These three minutes steal the spotlight among the extras. The featurette focuses mainly on the musical aspect of the film and the audition tapes. While there is some character analysis, director Todd Graff talks mainly of the cast’s musical talent. The live cast performance, a showcase for the ensemble, seems somewhat dull after the film’s flashy numbers. Lisette Johnson
March 14, 2004



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