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MGM Studios DVD presents
Camp (2003)

"When I was eight years old I told my dad that I wanted to take an acting class. He said, 'There are fifty billion people in this world. If one-tenth of 1% of them wanted to be actors, that would still be five million people. Do you really think you're prettier than five million people?'"
- Ellen (Joanna Chilcoat)

Review By: Kevin Clemons   
Published: February 25, 2004

Stars: Daniel Letterle, Joanna Chilcoat, Robin de Jesus, Steven Cutts
Director: Todd Graff

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for (mature thematic elements regarding teen sexual issues, and some language)
Run Time: 01h:49m:12s
Release Date: February 24, 2004
UPC: 027616901255
Genre: comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C+ B+CB- C+

DVD Review

Camp takes place at a fictional summer camp called Camp Ovation, dedicated to teaching young people how to act in an effort to ultimately land them work in the theater. Shot at Stagedoor Manor, a real camp where the likes of Robert Downey Jr. and Natalie Portman hone their craft before they hit it big, Camp is an often funny but ultimately sloppy film that does not really seem to have a straightforward point.

After taking some time to set up the plot, writer/director Todd Graff introduces us to his characters at Camp Ovation. There is Vlad (Letterle), a straight male who draws both sexes towards him. One of his admirers is his roommate Michal (de Jesus) a high school senior who has recently been beaten by a group of classmates after he attempted to attend his prom in drag. He also attracts the attention of Ellen (Chilcoat) and Jill (Allen), each of whom makes a drastic play for Vlad's affections. Ultimately, Vlad's desire to be liked by everyone causes drama in a setting specifically designed for those there to learn more about it.

Truth be told, if you have seen the 1980s classic, Fame, there is little that occurs during Camp that may seem fresh or original. I like the way in which Graff gives each actor their own storyline and he does such a nice job writing the characters that we care for them—so much so that it is disappointing to see them in such a pointless and uneven film.

There's abundant energy here and Graff does a nice job of taking us into a realm that many of us may know little about, and presents it with a true love for the subject matter. The film does falter a bit when too many musical performances become repetitive, but, like any good filmmaker, Graff wisely creates such wonderful characters that even when the story seems to be veering off course, the audience still cares about what happens to those involved on screen.

Overall, Camp is very hit and miss, with the lower points sadly winning out as the credits roll. I admire the effort put forth by Graff and his cast, and I also enjoyed the way in which Graff uses all of the standard elements of a summer camp comedy in a mature manner, as opposed to resorting to low-level humor simply to find an audience.

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Shot on digital video, Camp suffers from many noticeable flaws throughout, but there are moments when the transfer looks as good as any recent release. Colors have terrific vibrancy with no bleeding evident, but black levels are atrocious at times with horrible depth and a lot of grain. Edge enhancement is noticeable on numerous occasions while a large amount of video noise is noticeable for the majority of the film.

Image Transfer Grade: C

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Camp is presented with a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that is done quite nicely, but is largely anchored in the center channel. Dialogue has no distortion or dropouts noticeable, though there are a few brief instances where the dialogue seems a bit muddled, but these are very brief. The rear speakers are for the most part quiet, while the left and right speakers and the .1 LFE track do a fine job reinforcing the musical numbers.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
5 Deleted Scenes
1 Documentaries
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. Live Cast Performance
Extras Review: A 25-minute documentary takes the viewer behind the scenes in nearly every aspect of production; even footage from the premiere is included. This is a nice look and is a nice change of pace from the typical promotional pieces found so often on DVD.

Five deleted scenes are offered. Each scene seems to have been cut for either length or simply because it did not fit in with the rest of the film. An option is offered to play all five together , and the quality of the footage is quite good.

Finally, the films theatrical trailer is offered as well as a live performance by the cast at the 2003 Los Angeles Film Festival.

Extras Grade: C+

 

Final Comments

Camp is a film that was limited in its availability when it was released in the summer of 2003, and I can only hope that it finds an audience on home video. It is an uneven film in nearly every aspect, but there are enough winning moments to make this a nice rental.

 


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