SCREENED AT THE 2006 SXSW FILM FESTIVAL: Summercamp is probably one of the most expendable documentaries you'll ever watch in your lifetime -- but it sure is easy to sit through.I could bore you with a plot synopsis of some sort, but what really is there to say? Summercamp is a documentary about kids at summercamp. THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO INTRINSIC VALUE IN THIS MOVIE. IT IS NOT IMPORTANT. It's just cute.
And even manipulative.
From the uber-saturated images and slow-motion effects to the ultra-cool Flaming Lips soundtrack, this "documentary" is almost an advertisement for summercamps everywhere.
But it's mostly saved by the young giddy campers -- who are all unique and fascinating and charming in their own way. There's the chubby kid who always gets picked on, the girl who's sent to camp to make friends because she can't make any at her school, the fragile long-haired blond obsessed with her favorite animal the chickadee, and a dozen other personalities. Certain stories emerge and become compelling drivers of the film, and one or two of them are pretty memorable. There is one storyline in particular that probably snuck up on the filmmakers just like it did on me and it almost redeems Summercamp for its shallower moments.
The doco is enough to stir up a certain nostalgia in you if you ever had a similar experience as a kid and the childlike spirit of it is certainly a likeable one. But while Summercamp has such a carefree, innocent disposition and is effortlessly entertaining because of its pre-adolescent subjects, I can't help but wonder why this movie was made if the filmmakers didn't ever intend to dig all that deep. One of the camp counselors gives a very brief opinion about children being diagnosed for ADD at too early of an age and are consequentially overmedicated, but that's the only real feel of conflict you ever get in the film.
Maybe there's not a lot you CAN do with a documentary about summercamp -- which begs the question, why make one in the first place? Maybe the filmmakers set out to find a more intriguing story but instead ended up with the need to create a lot of montage-esque filler to make up for a lack of substance.Alas, Summercamp is a good-looking film and the kids entirely deserve the audience's affection and esteem. I'm just not sure I understand the point of it all.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2006 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Toronto Film Festival For more in the 2006 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Chicago Film Festival For more in the 2006 Chicago Film Festival series, click here.