Camp (2003)

DVD Cover (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)
Todd Graff Todd Graff
Daniel Letterle Daniel Letterle
Joanna Chilcoat Joanna Chilcoat
Robin de Jesus Robin de Jesus
Steven Cutts Steven Cutts
Vince Rimoldi Vince Rimoldi

6.2 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Genres: Comedy Drama, Musical, Musical Comedy, Musical Romance, Teen Comedy
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Review by bluemeanie
Added: May 17, 2005
This weekend has been phenomenal when it comes to original films that are wholly unique and highly entertaining. This might have been the best weekend I have had all year in regards to the number of quality films I have seen. "Bubba Ho-Tep" turned out to be one of the best horror comedies I have ever seen, and "Camp" is destined to make my end of the year list. It is an emotional, energetic, and engrossing film that plays like a hybrid between "Camp Nowhere" and "Center Stafe", except it manages to be innovative, creative, and one of the nicest treats I have seen in a long while. I was smiling from beginning to end.

Camp Ovation is the setting for the film, a camp for aspiring singers, dancers, actors, and musicians. The story is told, essentially, through three characters. Michael (Robin DeJesus) comes to the camp after being beaten severely after he attended his junior prom dressed in female clothing; he is a homosexual and feels free and open at the camp. Ellen (Joanna Chilcoat) is a shy, yet very talented young girl who, at the beginning of the film, is trying to convince her brother to go to the prom with her. And, Vlad (Daniel Latterle) is the only straight boy at the camp, who also happens to be an obsessive compulsive word counter and an attention junkie. Add in a mix of supporting characters (including Don Dixon as a formerly great Broadway composer and Tiffany Taylor as a slightly obese girl whose dad has her jaw wired shut to make sure she does not eat at camp) and you get the sensational slate of talent that is "Camp".

There are also numerous plot twists. Vlad is pursued by the most attractive girl in the camp, though he claims to have feelings for the awkward and shy Ellen. Michael has the hots for Vlad and it seems as though, at some times, the straight Vlad might have the same feelings for Michael. And, Don Dixon as Bert, is a raging alcoholic who is eventually forced to bring it together to help the kids put together the final benefit show of the year at the camp. By the end of the film, we wonder if Michael (who we thought gay) is straight and whether or not Vlad (who we thought straight) is actually gay. Amidst the turbulence are some classic Broadway tunes (mostly Steven Sondheim, who also makes a cameo in the film) and some fresh new ditties that actually deliver.

"Camp" is one of those films that leaves you feeling good on the inside when you leave the theatre. The performances from the three lead young actors are terrific, especially Daniel Latterle as Vlad. And, Don Dixon is surprisingly remarkable as the washed up Broadway composer. There is one terrific scene in which the kids are performing one of his unpublished works and he runs in to accompany them on the piano. Great stuff.

Theatre gurus and musical nuts will probably respond to this film better than the normal movie goer, which is fine, because this film was made for them. It caters to their every desire and I know it left me floating on air. I loved the inside theatre jokes, I loved the renditions of the Sondheim songs, and I loved the fact that, though this camp seemed too good to be true, this film was actually based on a camp just like the one in the film. I only wished I would have known about it when I was younger. "Camp" is one of the best films of the year. It is emotional. It is funny. It is infectious. It is downright special. 8.5/10.
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