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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 31.67%
Average: 3.33%
Pretty Bad: 1.67%
Total Crap: 20%

3 reviews, 42 user ratings

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by Thom

"What with all the singing and the dancing and the falling in love ..."
4 stars

ďWe donít get many like you here,Ē says Michael (Robin De Jesus) when he first meets the heterosexual Vlad (Daniel Letterle) at Camp Ovation, a peforming arts camp popular among gay teenage boys and heterosexual girls. While Vlad may seem like the odd man out, Michael and Vlad both want to be professional entertainers. With stars in their eyes they sing, dance and learn stagecraft throughout the summer. They also do what teenagers do best: fall in love, hate their life, get insecure, try to fit in and grow up into themselves as best they can.

CAMP is a movie about finding your tribe of aliens. Pretend that everyone comes from some other planet. As a cruel joke, the universe deposits a bunch of strangers on Planet Earth and the object is to find the people from your home world so you donít feel like an alien anymore. The story about Michaelís crush on Vlad hits close to home for gay teens who are alienated by their feelings. They donít see any reflection of their desires or any path to having a normal teenage romance. That is changing very slowly in some places and that means that eventually, the Prom Queens (who will both be men because lesbians couldn't care less about your stupid pretty-face popularity contest) will be a regular feature of high-school yearbooks across the nation.

And Iíll do anything to hasten that process.

But itís not just a gay story. Vlad is breaking hearts left and right. As the terminally pretty, ultra-talented straight guy, Vlad is immediately the target of everyoneís overweening teen lust. Ellen (Joanna Chilcoat), the kind-of-plain girl, also falls for him, which sets up another storyline fraught with yearning and tension.

Vlad doesnít know anything about musical theatre so heís the alien among aliens. He came to camp that summer to learn from his songwriting hero Bert (Don Dixon). But Bert is a jaded drunk who tells Vlad that the only thing that waits for him is a ďlong string of jobs waiting tables and bitterness.Ē

ďYou should never meet your heroes,Ē Vlad tells Bert. I didnít mind the clichť devices like the passionate youth who restores the faith in art of the bitter, jaded, faded glory, because the emotional heart of each scene is what is so appealing about this movie. For some reason, on screen, the story isnít overly sentimental even though on paper, itís pure schmaltz.

The movie, set against the hyperbolic backdrop of musical theatre, is structured like musical theatre and played for all the highs and lows director Todd Graff could get out of the characters and the situation they were in. The combination of sap, echoes of truth, and lots of razzle-dazzle, song-and-dance is lethal. I walked out of the theatre believing in my dreams all over again, although I was a little disappointed that Vlad and Michael didnít get together. But thatís the way it goes. The straight guy never turns just because you love him.

There was a nationwide search for the cast, and the effort pays off.

Camp Ovation is based on a real performing arts camp in New York that Todd Graff attended. He was once Robert Downey Jrís counselor. Jennifer Jason Leigh and Natalie Portman were also attendees at the camp.

CAMP has lots of emotional hooks that appeal not only to teenagers trying to assert their independence and autonomy, but to adults who may have lost their passion and sense of themselves while running the rat race. It also has the juicy, crucial moments of binary finality when it comes to matters of the heart. You root for everyone and want to see them all shine. You want to see them break past their limitations and insecurities, discover their true selves, tear off all the masks and let the world reorganize itself around their truth and their passion.

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originally posted: 07/25/03 18:37:11
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Edinburgh Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Edinburgh Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Seattle Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

7/07/12 Joey Just to see and hear Anna Kendrick sing, Terrific! 5 stars
5/15/07 Kay I loved this movie it was very good!! 5 stars
6/08/05 natalie awesome! great talent 5 stars
2/16/05 BoyInTheDesignerBubble The kid actors I grew up with were jerks. This movie is a sweet fantasy. 4 stars
10/24/04 Natasha Theobald the music may be the main reason to watch the film 3 stars
10/06/04 Jdoe Silly little movie with incredible theatre performances! 4 stars
8/31/04 Rachel I'll admit being a theatre geek, but this movie was fantastic. 5 stars
7/05/04 Tess Fah-bulous, darling! Heh... 5 stars
7/05/04 cara very unique and metaphorical. A keeper. 5 stars
4/17/04 Michael Greenwaldt A blast! The main attraction is Daniel Letterle. It's impossible not 2 fall for this hottie 5 stars
4/06/04 Aviva Siegel Great! 5 stars
3/31/04 Red Wood Mundane story beyond repair;engaging numbers can't make up for idiotic script 2 stars
3/23/04 Matt R 2 VERY Enthusiastic Thumbs UP! ROCK ON! 5 stars
3/07/04 JC The biggest pile of crap I've seen in ages... 1 stars
2/18/04 Meg script is so-so, but the kids shine through with their terrific stage performances 5 stars
9/23/03 Ainsley Awful. Stereotypical homophobic rubbish 1 stars
8/31/03 Barb CAMP - - script a little clumky, but very enjoyable especially for theatre geeks like me. 4 stars
8/30/03 Joey I hate this movie!! hated,hated,hated this movie 1 stars
8/29/03 Brendan It really only makes sense if you're gay and can understand what it's like to be Michael. 5 stars
8/26/03 Hank Rubbish 1 stars
8/23/03 SisterDebMac Damn, Todd Graff cast Don Dixon before I could! 5 stars
8/20/03 Me Great 5 stars
8/17/03 Evan Herring One of the best movies I have seen 5 stars
8/15/03 Lord Chu It manages to be beautiful, touching, and hilarious at the same time. Bravo! 5 stars
8/11/03 steve lot's of fun 4 stars
7/26/03 Hank Queer is here. 1 stars
6/13/03 Betsy Amazing, Awesome, and Thrilling 5 stars
6/11/03 Melissa Smith Excellent! Rock on, Joanna! 5 stars
6/07/03 Hamlet I went to this camp as a teacher - still have nightmares 1 stars
5/29/03 Chris Styls Much better than Fame, bigger talent. Jill and Fritzi are hysterical. Jill is gorgeous! 5 stars
5/24/03 Michael Taylor I left the theater three hours ago and I'm still feeling happy about this film! 4 stars
5/24/03 michele the little kid wth the glasses was so cute funny . 5 stars
5/20/03 Chaz Harris CAMP is the best teen movie in ages to deal with REAL issues! 5 stars
5/19/03 michael It was lots of fun and very real, hits close to home, but I was a musician. Jax film fest 5 stars
5/15/03 sean amazing film and great cast 5 stars
5/10/03 rich cline a wacky take on the Fame theme 4 stars
5/10/03 jojo this movie is god 5 stars
5/09/03 Al Maw Characters are underdeveloped, and I kept laughing during the serious bits... 3 stars
4/11/03 Greg Cliched but Kosher=cute 4 stars
4/05/03 Kinolieber Incredible Fun! Exhilarating Musical Numbers. 5 stars
2/04/03 Charles Truly awesome! Fritzi kicks ass!! 5 stars
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  25-Jul-2003 (PG-13)
  DVD: 24-Feb-2004



Directed by
  Todd Graff

Written by
  Todd Graff

  Don Dixon
  Joanna Chilcoat
  Robin de Jesus
  Anna Kendrick
  Stephen DiMenna
  Steven Cutts

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