If you were a musical theater kid growing up, this film is for you. If you are the sibling of a theater kid growing up, this film is for you. If you were a stage designer, set hand or cast member, this is the film to bring you back to your childhood and flood it with so many nostalgic memories you will want to see this movie again and again and again. This mockumentary-style film centres around two counsellors at a theater camp who were child prodigies and, while they never made it to Broadway, come back each year as counsellors, trying to live their dreams through the up-and-coming young campers. Together, they go through the stages of horrible auditions, rejections, rehearsals and school camp politics to deliver a wildly entertaining film that stands out as one of the year’s best comedies.
Joan Rubinsky (Amy Sedaris) is the proud owner of Camp ArdinoidACTS in upstate New York. After a strobe light incident sends her into a coma right before the start of the new summer camp season, her son Troy (Jimy Tatro), who has no idea about the camp, is left in charge to save it from the woes from the bank. While sifting through the mess, the camp counsellors led by Amos (Ben Platt) and Rebecca-Diane (Molly Gordon) strut around like superstars, inflicting their unresolved hopes and dreams on the kids at the camp. When it’s revealed that the camp is in financial distress and something must be done to save it. Fortunately, this all too overused cliche is wafted out by the kids who reject capitalism and just want to perform on stage which takes this film into an entertaining twist.
It is a wild 90 minutes packed full of jokes and zingers that you will need to watch several times to fully grasp the breadth of what they are doing here. Through all of the jokes and the brutally honest stabs is a heart and sweetness that shines through each character and the core of what this camp means to everyone involved. This is only amplified through the performances of the cast, Platt and Gordon are the clear standouts here, guiding the story and cast. Ayo Edebiri has a great stint as a dry character, leading the stage fighting workshops and specialising in mime.
There are obvious comparisons here to 2003’s Camp with an infusion of Wet Hot American Summer, while clear influences, this movie still manages to carve out its own path resulting in some big laughs and a memorable movie you will want to revisit. There are some original songs in this with some truly terrible lyrics that only add to the laughs and charm.
Theater Camp is truly firing on all comedic cylinders, it understands every bit of this experience and the emotional rollercoaster of being involved in a live performance both on and off stage. While a lot of the attention is on the main adults, there is much to be said about the kids involved who truly give their all to solidify an incredible film. Platt and Gordon have truly crafted one of the years best comedies you will want to watch over and over.
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