“Theater kid” can be a pejorative in Hollywood. To be a “theater kid” means that you are too enthusiastic, too showman, in other words, not cool. (To see the Anne Hathaway aftermath of the 2012 awards campaign.)
The new comedy theater camp, which premiered at Sundance and was quickly picked up by Searchlight Pictures, has a lot of “theater kid” energy and wears it proudly. Please don’t let this discourage you. Sure, maybe it’s a little a lot for those who do not feed on references to Bad and Throat Coat tea and Sweeney Toddbut it’s also delicately calibrated to celebrate overly dramatic weirdos while playfully ribbing them at the same time.
This gem of a mockumentary comes from a group of dedicated adult theater kids. Molly Gordon (Library) leads alongside Nick Liebermanand they co-wrote the script with their friends Noah Galvin (also Library) and Ben Platt (Dear Evan Hansen). (Platt and Galvin, who are engaged, both played Evan Hansen on Broadway if you want to know how layered this theater kid thing is.)
The plot begins during a production at the college of goodbye birdie in the presence of Joan (Amy Sedaris), the beloved founder of the AdirondACTS summer camp. The unfortunate use of strobe lights gives Joan a stroke and puts her into a coma, forcing her son Troy to wield a selfie stick (jimmy tatro) to resume camp operations.
Troy likes Post Malone and doesn’t understand what it means when campers call him a “music man”, which means he’s not the right person to lead these divas in training, who are trained to only listen that when they hear the opening lyrics to “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” by Oklahoma! The instructors are also stressed by Troy’s presence, especially Amos (Platt) and Rebecca-Diane (Gordon), two hip-bound former campers who write and direct an original musical every year. This session, they compose a show in honor of their indisposed leader, who must be called Joan again. (The actual songs are written by the writing team and Marc Sonnenblick, and strike a perfect balance between intentionally amateurish and earworm.)
Tatro from Netflix american vandal, makes the brother act silly, while Gordon and Platt are adorably obnoxious as those overly serious comedians who decided to pour all their creative passion into teaching because the entertainment industry in general let them down. Galvin, meanwhile, is both the movie and the camp’s secret weapon as a jack-of-all-trades with a song in his heart, and the bear Star Those two there is wonderfully odd as a new councilor with no real experience in the performing arts.
But the smartest decision theater camp Makes hires an array of brilliantly talented kids to play campers. You may recognize some of them. to painit is Alain Who is a pint-sized wannabe agent doing fake business on a desk phone. Alexander Bellofrom John Mulaney and the Sack Luncheon Bandis a belt that prays for Patti LuPone and audra mcdonald. (He also makes a pretty solid “Epiphany” of Sweeney.) kyndra sanchez of The Babysitters Club plays a poised star with a professional background that stirs up Amos’s jealousy. The Mighty Ducks: The Game Changers‘ Luke Islam refuses to let a power outage prevent him from nailing the final note of “Defying Gravity”. And that’s what he does.
With the adult actors playing goofy characters, the genuine passion and skills of the children ground the film. Their performances make you believe in the camp’s mission and may even make you wipe away tears.
theater camp borrow generously from both hot and humid american summer and Waiting for Guffman, but never feels too derivative of its predecessors in part because it’s so serious. Filmed in a false truth style, it almost entirely rejects cynicism while still managing to get a bit of a head start, in part because it’s aware of just how fleeting the magic of those few months can be for attendees. AdirondACTS. In the real world, they will have to deal with the harsh realities of their peers or the fact that a career on stage is out of reach for many. Here they are the little kings and queens of their corny kingdom. Although we’re supposed to laugh at Amos and Rebecca-Diane – and it’s hard not to recognize Platt’s meta quality winning Tony playing a never-been – there’s a melancholy to Platt and Gordon’s performances, although she leads sessions and it’s too hard for little singers. In the campers, they see their past and their future that will never be.
But beyond that: the jokes are good. Of course, many require a knowledge of musical theater, but even beginners will find something to like. And this is the curtain.