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Column | Caitlin Clark adapts to life in the WNBA
Column | Caitlin Clark adapts to life in the WNBA
By James Carter, Staff Writer • June 20, 2024
Opinion | NHL needs to bring specialty jerseys back
By Jameson Keebler, Senior Staff Columnist • June 19, 2024
Opinion | Hold your elected officials morally responsible
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • June 18, 2024

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Column | Caitlin Clark adapts to life in the WNBA
Column | Caitlin Clark adapts to life in the WNBA
By James Carter, Staff Writer • June 20, 2024
Opinion | NHL needs to bring specialty jerseys back
By Jameson Keebler, Senior Staff Columnist • June 19, 2024
Opinion | Hold your elected officials morally responsible
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • June 18, 2024

Review: ‘Theater Camp’ is where ‘Hamilton’ phases never end

Theater+Camp+movie+poster.
IMBd Screenshot
Theater Camp movie poster.

“Peters, Foster, Streisand, Lupone, give us a role we can make our own,” the children of “Theater Camp” chant as they await the incoming cast list. Even if those names mean nothing to you, “Theater Camp” is a heartfelt comedy worth everyone’s time.

Theater Camp” is a mockumentary following AdirondACTS, a summer camp for talented young thespians, after the unfortunate injury of their director Joan (Amy Sedaris). Replacing her is Troy (Jimmy Tatro), her son whose resumé starts with “aspiring vlogger” and ends with “en-Troy-preneur.” With Troy’s apparent lack of musical theater prowess, the camp is run by camp veterans Amos (Ben Platt), Rebecca-Diane (Molly Gordon) and Gigi (Owen Thiele). As financial troubles plague the camp, shows and lifelong friendships begin to fall apart. 

Based on a short film of the same name created by Platt, Gordon, Noah Galvin and Nick Lieberman, the 90-minute feature film expands on their initial recreation of the musical theater camps of their childhoods. Galvin plays Glenn, the technical director with more talent than most of the teachers. Gordon, previously known for roles in “Shiva Baby” and “The Bear,” makes her directorial debut with Lieberman. The film debuted during Sundance 2023 and had a limited theatrical run in July, leaving fans eager for the streaming release that finally came on September 14. 

The film’s ensemble cast is its strength. Platt and Gordon, who have been friends since high school, riff off each other nimbly. Their characters, Amos and Rebecca-Diane, who are acting and singing coaches respectively, share a teaching style that teeters between ridiculous and bullying. Calling ten-year-olds French prostitutes, nay, “sex workers,” and treating a tear stick like cocaine just scratches the surface of their shocking hilarity. With other actors, these statements would seem over the top and cruel, but Platt and Gordon deliver their lines in a deadpan style that makes these moments feel humorous. However, it is not only jokes shared between the two. As tensions flare between the pair, the serious moments between them display their range as actors. 

Tatro, known for his viral YouTube channel LifeAccordingToJimmy and his role in another mockumentary “American Vandal,” excels as Troy. So far, his range has been limited to fratty jokesters, but it’s a typecast he can do incredibly well. Playing yet another character that could be received as cringey, Tatro takes Troy’s silly moments, such as singing and dancing for an audition to Better Now by Post Malone, and makes them incredibly believable. Tatro’s comedic timing is impeccable, emphasized by the fact that he improvised most of his lines.

Ayo Ediberi is criminally underused in this film. The up-and-coming actress, known for comedies like “Bottoms” and dramas like “The Bear,” plays Janet, a new teacher who lied about everything on her resumé. In her few minutes of screen time, she steals the show. Her delivery rivals that of Tatro with a fraction of the time to shine. 

However, the unsung heroes here are the campers. While the adults occupy most of the plot, the children bring life and humor to the film. Child actors can often struggle with comedic timing and bog a movie down with awkward performances. However, all of the kids showed tremendous merit, not only in acting but also in song and dance. Additionally, most films that center on a plethora of LGBTQ+ characters usually only feature adults. Here, openly queer kids throw “cishet” around as an insult. 

Due to licensing costs, the film could only use a few songs from Broadway, forcing the production team to write their own original music for the film. Because of their experience with musicals, especially for Platt, the music is surprisingly good. The final musical of the film, “Joan, Still” — a fictional retelling of the camp director’s life — features the song “Camp Isn’t Home,” a rousing theme for the film. 

While the camerawork is incredibly forgettable, the editing, led by Jon Philpot, sets this movie alight. In mockumentaries, such as The Office, camerawork usually adds to the jokes, but each shot is fairly predictable. Despite the boring shots, the fast-paced and comedic cutting adds to the already hilarious film. 

“Theater Camp” is a laugh-out-loud romp that should be an addition to everyone’s watch list. Although the film definitely has moments that are meant for people who can recite “Cats” from memory and know what Studio 54 is, this is a comedy that everyone can enjoy. There is no musical theater knowledge required to giggle at a young boy coming out as straight to his two dads. So if “Camp Rock” has gotten old, it’s time to check out “Theater Camp.”