Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5
USA, 2003. IFC Productions, Jersey Films, John Wells Productions, Killer Films, Laughlin Park Pictures. Screenplay by Todd Graff. Cinematography by Kip Bogdahn. Produced by Danny DeVito, Pamela Koffler, Katie Roumel, Michael Shamberg, Stacey Sher, Christine Vachon, Jonathan Weisgal. Music by Stephen Trask. Production Design by Dina Goldman. Costume Design by Dawn Weisberg. Film Editing by Myron I. Kerstein.
The hilarious adventures of teenagers at a musical camp are the subject of this enjoyable film, one which will have limited appeal only to those who like musicals. The kids are an assortment of unhappy misfits who have found the one place in the world where they really fit in.
Gay teen Michael has his heart set afire when the adorable (but straight) Vlad shows up and impresses everyone with his guitar playing. Ellen dates Vlad but can’t seem to keep his attention focused on her. There’s also an overweight girl whose parents have wired her teeth shut, a snotty villainess who is about to get her comeuppance from the girl she enslaves into servitude (played by a hilarious Anna Kendrick in her debut), and the whole lot of them have to band together in the end to save the career of a flailing musical songwriter who has given up on himself.
It feels a lot longer than it actually is, and this couldn’t possibly be a good thing, but the musical numbers are fantastic (and the youngsters have such great voices), featuring standards from shows like Dreamgirls and Company. On top of the older music there’s also a few newer songs (with contributions by Fame‘s Michael Gore) that sound snazzy. The personalities will win you over, but Todd Graff’s rambling screenplay will leave you a bit wiped.