Movie: Those who enjoy the dramatic arts, be it theatre, the movies, television or whatever, are probably familiar with a little movie made decades ago, Fame. The movie detailed the life of a group of high school students growing up in a performing arts school and found a lot of success in its depiction. Over the years, a lot of other movies have tried to imitate Fame's success in capturing the coming of age of the drama (and drag) queens such a school produced. The latest attempt to capture the magic of the hit is a low budget movie, Camp.
The movie takes a look at an ensemble cast of youth who attend a summer camp where they hope to learn their craft and become the stars of tomorrow. Needless to say, each adds their own personality to the eclectic mix; the heartthrob, the bitch, the drag queen, the shadow, the schemer, the fat chick, and a bunch of other stereotypes you've likely seen elsewhere. Each of them goes through the paces as they seek to discover not only their hidden talents but also who they really are and where they fit into the scheme of things.
There was no "real" story here other than a minor plot about a broken down old has been teacher seeking redemption in the eyes of his students. Other than that, most of the scenes revolve around various productions the students take part in or the romantic entanglements they get into with one another. Those seeking a linear story with a beginning, middle and end will walk away from this one with melancholy since it was more a slice of life movie than anything else.
The story was essentially nonexistent and the direction very spotty but a lot of fans like movies that appear rough, and this one will deliver on that promise in spades. The acting was also rough and I doubt any of the cast had much formal training since they all appeared to be taken off the street for this production. In short, I think most movie watchers will either love this one or hate it with little middle ground. Fans of big budget, corporate made Hollywood films will think it stinks and fans of unknown people going through rough times will probably enjoy it immensely.
So, what do you rate a movie that offers such a mixed bag of elements? I'm going to be generous and suggest it as a Rent It although I'm sure some of you will claim I missed the genius behind the whole affair (no such talent was present). If you liked Fame and want to see a low-end knock off of it, this will suffice but don't expect a lot of it.
Picture: The picture was presented in anamorphic widescreen color with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, as originally filmed. There was a lot of grain and mosquito noise as well as a variety of other visual flaws to contend with. It looked low budget but if you enjoy this type of movie, all the flaws with the picture aren't going to dissuade you from liking it. So what if the flesh tones are a bit off, the blacks not true black and if the compression artifacts troublesome?
Sound: The audio was presented in 5.1 Dolby Digital surround English with optional English or Spanish subtitles. The audio was generally a bit better than the picture. The musical numbers had some separation between the channels but the vocals were somewhat hollow otherwise. In all, it wasn't bad but it was limited.
Extras: The best extra was a 25 minute long Making of featurette that showed a lot of the cast and crew from the auditions through the filming of the movie itself. It was as entertaining as the movie itself and added some value to the DVD. There was a short performance by the cast that was taped live at the Los Angles Film Festival in 2003, which was a cute extra. There were five deleted or extended scenes, a few of which were interesting (total running time was about 12 minutes). Finally, there were a number of trailers to other MGM releases with Camp and it's soundtrack promo thrown in for good measure.
Final Thoughts: The technical aspects of the movie were nothing special but it had some enjoyable moments. The extras were much better than expected but only true fans of musicals, coming of age stories, and independent movies will like this one enough to appreciate it.