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Camp (2003)

A Comedy About Drama

Rating: 3/10

Running Time: 114 minutes

UK Certificate: 12A

‘Camp’ is about those kids we all knew an example of at school, and more than likely had a little bit of extra special hatred kept aside for. You know the type I mean – the ones that wanted to ‘perform’. Not that there’s anything wrong with performing – it’s the ramming of it down everyone else’s throats that I could never stand. So, on the face of it, a special camp that takes all of these little snotbags out of everyone else’s way for the summer sounds a good idea. In fact, why not make it a year-round thing?

The camp in this case is named Camp Ovation, which is where we come across – among others – skateboarding ‘Busted’-wannabe Vlad (Daniel Letterle), inoffensively dull Ellen (Joanna Chilcoat), and curly-topped tranny Michael (Robin de Jesus). Under the less-than-watchful eye of micro-bearded gin-guzzler Bert (Don Dixon), this self-obsessed bevy of stage-huggers have to put on a series of musical plays, interspersed with requisite ‘Dawson’s Creek’-style teen dilemmas.

I found myself almost feeling sorry for the cast of this mess, each of them untrained actors and most of them clearly well over their heads. While each of the OTT musical set-pieces work fairly well (if you like that sort of thing), there’s an uncomfortable awkwardness about the casts’ attempts to act – well – normally. There’s some impressive singing coming out of those highly punchable faces, but it’s all for nothing if they can’t bring themselves to look like real people as and when they’re supposed to.

It also possesses a plot lost in the realms of pointlessness, with few moral lessons, much less hugging than you’d expect, and not even any sort of decent comeuppance for the character I won’t name here but would consider the (slightly) bad guy. Are these good things? Are these bad things? Who knows? There are times during ‘Camp’ when you don’t know whether to laugh, cry or vomit. Even writer and director Todd Graff doesn’t seem overly sure which of those reactions would be most appropriate. How are his audience supposed to?

It's Got: An appropriate title in more ways than one.

It Needs: For the plot, script and acting to match-up to the standard of the musical numbers.


Don’t expect to be giving this ill-conceived musical a standing ovation any time soon.