Theater Camp

Theater Camp is less of a satire on community theatre nor is it a snide comedy towards theatre dorks.  In fact, Theater Camp is actually quite sincere with its representation of people who are very enthusiastic about the performing arts – kids and adults alike.  Through that sincerity, there are still self-aware moments that will make this moviegoing demographic laugh at themselves but, still, Theater Camp is all in good fun.

Framing itself as a mockumentary on AdirondACTS, a fictitious summer camp run by the wickedly talented Joan Rubinsky (Amy Sedaris), the “filmmakers” are forced to change course when Rubinsky suffers a debilitating injury and is forced to bow out of this season’s activities.  Her son Troy (Jimmy Tatro of Netflix’s similar American Vandal series) takes over her camp duties, and he couldn’t be more of a fish-out-of-water.  He tries to roll with the other councillors (who include Dear Evan Hansen’s Ben Platt, Zoolander’s Nathan Lee Graham, and Theater Camp co-director/co-writer Molly Gordon), but he eventually gets sidetracked by AdirondACTS’ financial woes.  Meanwhile, the camp anticipates the production of their summer show – a heartfelt tribute to their fallen leader titled Joan, Still.

Theater Camp has a very loose narrative but, because the film works as a series of “bits”, this structure works.  Much like the unseen “filmmakers”, Gordon and co-director/co-writer Nick Lieberman set up narrative turnoffs in case they need to redirect the movie’s focus towards another, more fruitful avenue.  Whether it’s Troy’s fish-out-of-water arc, other kids at the camp who are going through their own coming-of-age, the gradually fractured friendship between camp co-directors Amos and Rebecca-Diane (Platt and Gordon), the sketchy newbie (Ayo Edebiri of FX’s The Bear) who lied on her councillor application, or the secretive performance aspirations of Glenn the stage manager (Noah Galvin), Theater Camp always has an available story ripcord to pull in case the movie hits a dry spell.  Because everyone receives equal time on screen, Theater Camp doesn’t feel uneven.

The mockumentary set-up is the only expendable quality of Theater Camp.  However, had the film been approached any other way, movie goers may have missed out on some of the funniest title cards and text transitions ever applied to a movie.

Wylie Writes has discussed cinema’s wholesome “nicecore” movement before (Peace By Chocolate, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On).  While the movement has hardly had any fouls, Theater Camp is a good send-off if the overall interest in “nicecore” is finally passing on.


Do You Tweet? Follow These Tweeple:

Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie

Be the first to comment

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.