SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) — Theater Camp
3 out of 5 Stars
Director: Milly Gordon, Nick Lieberman
Writers: Noah Galvin, Molly Gordon, Nick Lieberman, Ben Platt
Starring: Molly Gordon, Ben Platt, Noah Galvin, Jimmy Tatro, Patti Harrison, Ayo Edibiri
Category: U.S. Dramatic Compettion
Tickets, Online Screenings: Click Here
Sundance Synopsis: As summer rolls around again, kids are gathering from all over to attend AdirondACTS, a scrappy theater camp in upstate New York that’s a haven for budding performers. After its indomitable founder Joan (Amy Sedaris) falls into a coma, her clueless “crypto-bro” son Troy (Jimmy Tatro) is tasked with keeping the thespian paradise running. With financial ruin looming, Troy must join forces with Amos (Ben Platt), Rebecca-Diane (Molly Gordon), and their band of eccentric teachers to come up with a solution before the curtain rises on opening night.
Review: I haven’t watched “Waiting for Guffman” or “Hamlet 2” in quite some time, but it feels like “Theater Camp” would make for a spiritual trilogy. “Guffman” is about community theater; “Hamlet 2” is high school theater; and “Theater Camp” is about well, it’s about theater camp. A struggling theater camp called AdirondACTS that is already on the verge of bankruptcy when its leader, Joan (Amy Sedaris), falls into a strobe-light-induced coma. In her absence, her son Troy (Jimmy Tatro) steps in. Troy is a hapless man with big dreams and an incredibly small social media presence.
We learn that in the name of cost cutting, Troy has fired most of the instructors. Leaving only a handful of semi-trained professionals and a local woman with no theater experience whatsoever to manage fifty or so students. Sadly, “Theater Camp” isn’t about the students. It is primarily about Angelo Bassett (Ben Platt) and Rebecca-Diane (Molly Gordon), ride or die besties who threw off their dreams of being performers to be teachers aspiring to be performers. This is a camp with large personalities and minute resumes.
It's clear that Platt, Gordon, and Tatro had a wonderful time making the film. I wish I could say that watching it was equally enjoyable. “Theater Camp” is self-indulgent and too flippant to really generate any emotional warmth. You’ll laugh and there are some clever elements like Alan (Alan S. Kim) a camper who is an aspiring agent, or Bradley (Noah Galvin), a talented actor pushed into running the stage management and behind-the-scenes classes. There is a better film within this premise just waiting to be made.