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Don't Go into the Woods

I don't want to mince my words here, so let me be clear: Camp is a very bad movie. It's billed as a comedy, but I can't seem to figure out on which level the comedy is supposed to work. Is the whole thing -- the whole premise - is the whole thing a farce? Maybe it is supposed to be a sort of Mystery Science Theater 3000 kind of funny? Or is it supposed to be a moving story which also happens to be funny? I ask these questions with the fear that Camp was designed to be that last one. I think writer/director Todd Graff meant to create a comedy that is at once funny, touching, and inspiring. According to my calculations, he has failed.

Camp Ovation is a summer camp for creative kids. Kids that sing, kids that dance, but most of all, kids that are gay. Actually, the girls are straight. It's the boys that like each other. The common thread, though, is that they're all varying degrees of misfit. Social outcasts. Kids that can't get a junior prom date and the like. Why are they so socially inept? Why, it's all that ridiculous creativity running through their tiny little veins. Camp Ovation is the one place that all these kids can make a summer pilgrimage towards in order to gain creative salvation. One place where they won't get beaten up for dressing in drag for their prom, in other words.

Well, all of this creative harmony is shattered when, on the first day of camp, in walks Mister Heterosexual, a 16 year old heartthrob named Vlad. Now, most Vlads I know don't speak with a Rochester accent, but that doesn't stop Vlad from waltzing right in and stealing the hearts of both Ellen and her best friend Michael. Why is there a straight guy at Camp Ovation? Everyone wants to know. For my two cents, however, I thought there was something confused about Vlad when he auditioned with a version of "Wild Horses" that sounded more like the Sundays' version of the song than the Stones'. Also, there's a scene later in the movie in which Vlad rides his skateboard back and forth in front of Michael, vying for his attention. He skates quite poorly for a kid that brings his skateboard to a camp in the woods. I was under the impression that every kid born post-1985 had to have chops on a skateboard.

So, here's how Camp works. You get up, you rehearse something creative, and you put on a flashy production for the parents and whatever yokels crawl out of the woods to see them. But while all of this is happening, Vlad is seducing Ellen. He also seduces a couple of the other sex-starved creative chicks in the process, but hey - it's Vlad's world.

Once again: terrible movie. The world is an interesting one, though, and if the damn thing hadn't been so unbearably cheesy, Camp could have accomplished some things. It's an environment that's completely out of the ordinary for most viewers. However, even Graff backs down from a challenge here: Vlad isn't the typical good-looking sophomore in high school hunk that we think he is. He's had a tough go of it too: he's got OCD. And, to add to that, he's an attention hound and generally kind of an asshole. There are a couple of creepy shots of Vlad removing clothing while Michael stares him down, and Vlad loves it. All over the map.

Still, this movie will definitely appeal to some. After viewing the movie and being in total agreement that it was horrible, my girlfriend and I decided that there were certain friends of ours who would absolutely love Camp. They're the ones we usually toss into the Target Audience category, the ones who will gleefully pay their $9 solely on the basis of a Freddie Prinze, Jr. headline. They'd like Camp. But to be completely honest, I really had a hard time sitting through it and not punching myself in the face for being there.


Rated PG-13
1 hours 55 minutes

Daniel Letterle
Joanna Chilcoat
Robin de Jesus
Sasha Allen
Tiffany Taylor