4 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
camp With heavy echoes of Fame, this raucous comedy focuses on ambitions teens at a summer camp for performers. As one of the teachers points out, "These kids are freaks!" They don't fit in at high school, but are allowed to blossom and go rather mad here at Camp Ovation. At the centre of the plot is the annoyingly perfect Vlad (Letterle), who is outrageously nice and extremely talented. Is he hiding a dark side? His roommate is Michael (de Jesus), a drag queen struggling with his sexuality and the acceptance of his peers and his parents. Michael's best friend is Ellen (Chilcoat), who feels way out of Vlad's league, but can't resist his charms. Also at camp are Jenna (Taylor), whose parents so want her to lose weight that they've wired her jaw shut; Jill (Allen), the primadonna seductress; and Fritzi (Kendrick), Jill's intense stalker of a roommate.

The cast is full of newcomers who are all startlingly talented as actors, singers and dancers--the characters all spring wonderfully to life in their capable hands. Meanwhile, Graff's writing and direction deftly balance the wacky humour and one-line zingers with the more powerful poignant moments, including more than one scene that's supercharged with cathartic emotion. Each character has his or her own story arc, and while it's a bit all-encompassing in its approach (and more than a little symbolic!), the film is thoroughly engaging, hilarious and moving, even when it takes a misstep here and there, most notably the anticlimactic epilogue ... which is followed by another whopping production number. And it's these high-energy musical pieces that make the film memorable--and give it cult movie value. This is the kind of film you can watch over and over again on several levels, especially as you mine the script for knowing jokes about the theatre (it's packed with them). Yes, these kids are freaks. But they don't need normalcy ... they need fame!

cert 12 themes, language, innuendo 7.May.03

dir-scr Todd Graff
with Daniel Letterle, Joanna Chilcoat, Robin de Jesus, Tiffany Taylor, Don Dixon, Steven Cutts, Alana Allen, Anna Kendrick, Vince Rimoldi, Stephen DiMenna, Sasha Allen, Stephen Sondheim
release US 25.Jul.03 UK 5.Sep.03
03/US 1h54

Turkey Lurkey. The kids at Camp Ovation put on a high-energy show!

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R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Dawn Dziak, Northfield Center OH: "I thought the movie was awesome and very entertaining. The actors and actresses were phenomenal, especially that gorgeous Daniel Letterle. I hope to see him in more movies. He sings like an angel. He's great." (30.Jul.03) the show must go on

Tracy Drogalus Dzmura, Mayfield Heights OH: "This production is so captivating that you forget it is an independent film! A real 'feel good' piece bulging with immense talent. The character Vlad is such a hunk Im sure we will see him in more movies to come!" (24.Aug.03)

camp Richard Armstrong, Arlington TX: "Awesome! Saw the movie and downright loved it. Couldn't find the horribly bad side to this movie; sure you have the alcholic director, but what theatre doesn't have a director that's a little 'off' now and again. Delightfully uplifting and makes you realize that you should 'come out and play the game' ... You shouldn't just go through life ho-hum, but do something that you can put your heart, soul and essence into. It's always worth it, no matter how little you think it matters - it's worth it!" (27.Aug.03)

John, Cali: 4.5/5 "Let me tell ya, it's rare I come home singing and dancing from the theatre and pray that my world will suddenly become a technicolor dream, but that's what I did when I came home. This story of those who don't fit in offstage but crave the onstage was strong, but still had some kinks and quirks that would have worked better. Vlad was reminiscent of Wahlberg in Boogie Nights, hence the numerous refrences, and the depth of the 'is he or is he not' plotline worked perfectly at the end. Dee should have had more of a storyline, my only complaint. Give me the stage, don't give me the blues, just hand me my dancin shoes." (9.Oct.04)

Carlos, net: "I just loved it. In fact, it is my favorite movie of all time! The story is so relevant to my life and everytime I see it again and again it makes me feel awesome. some of the acting was not excellent, but most of it was great. The beautiful music, played by very talented young people, touched me and enhanced the theme greatly. Thank you Todd Graff - you changed my life!" (7.Jan.05)

Martrese Meachum, Savannah, georgia: 5/5 "OMG! I loved this film, it really touched me to my heart, being one of those freaks myself. Trust me this is what I've needed to show me that I'm not alone. I have seen camp 18 times in two months. I'm addicted." (22.Feb.06)

2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall