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Theater Camp


Stars: Ben Platt, Molly Gordon, Jimmy Tatro, Caroline Aaron, Noah Galvin. Amy Sedaris, Alan Kim, Nathan Lee Graham

Director: Nick Lieberman, Molly Gordon

A very American put-on-a-show comedy-musical that's almost as chaotic as the goings-on at Adirond Acts (situated in the Adirondack Mountains), a shoestring summer camp for varyingly-talented youngsters who aspire to careers in show business.

Organisation is haphazard, as assembled by music teacher Diane (Gordon), and drama teacher Amos (Platt) whose best advice to the kids is 'Acting is remembering and then choosing to forget'. And most of the training is as useless as this. Only Glenn (Galvin), the camp's jack-of-all-trades, seems to have the slightest idea of what it's all about.

To make things worse, the camp is threatened with foreclosure over unpaid bills, the founder, Joan (Sedaris) is in hospital after a mild stroke and her useless son Troy (Tatro) is in charge, with as much idea of raising funds as his staff have of teaching the performing arts - while snooty Lakeside, the rich kids' camp nearby, is just waiting to swallow up its failing rivals.

I didn't find most of goings-on especially funny, though bits here and there do raise a smile. Scattershot dialogue seems improvised at times, giving the feel of an amateur vanity project, while the handheld camerawork can be a bit dizzying. The youngsters' final show is well worth waiting for...but it's a long wait.

David Quinlan

USA 2023. UK Distributor: Disney (Searchlight Films). Colour by Cinelease.
94 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 1, Swearing 1.

Review date: 23 Aug 2023