Daniel Letterle

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Camp Review


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If movies were the only thing we had to go on, nobody in their right mind would go to a summer camp. You either wind up with an axe in your back or spend two weeks with dim-witted counselors wearing ill-fitting shorts who Just Don't Understand Kids. There's oppressive heat, poison ivy, and lots of god-awful dialogue. So it's to Todd Graff's credit that he tried to make a summer-camp movie that gleefully tries to tweak the genre's conventions. Camp refers to its subject - a summer camp for teenaged would-be Broadway stars - as well as to the inherent silliness (i.e. campiness) of the summer-camp genre. In Camp, characters pointedly don't do the things they usually do in movies. But it's so over-earnest in its approach that the results aren't much fun.

Camp's story centers on three young performers attending Camp Ovation: The sincere but unconfident Ellen (Joanna Chilcoat), the cross-dressing Michael (Robin De Jesus) whose homosexuality ires his parents, and the charming yet arrogant hunk Vlad (Daniel Letterle). Vlad has a winning smile and a straight-boy bravado that everybody else at Camp Ovation lacks, which makes him the subject of a half-dozen crushes. But there's work to be done: The assembled kids have to put on a new production every two weeks, managed by Bert (Don Dixon), a washed-out alcoholic whose stage successes are years behind him.

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