Camp (2003)
Main cast: Daniel Letterle (Vlad), Joanna Chilcoat (Ellen), Robin de Jesus (Michael), Steven Cutts (Shaun), Vince Rimoldi (Spitzer), Kahiry Bess (Petie), Tiffany Taylor (Jenna), Sasha Allen (Dee), Alana Allen (Jill), Anna Kendrick (Fritzi), and Don Dixon (Bert)
Director: Todd Graff


Camp pretends to be a Gay Movie with its heavy number of gay male characters, it wants to be Fame, and it canonizes Stephen Sondheim and his music. But before anybody rushes to watch this movie expecting either a musical or a feel-good gay movie, be warned: Camp is a hopelessly formulaic movie that fails as both a gay movie or a musical.

Its utmost failure as a gay movie is that like many of the tedious gay movies like The Fluffer, Kiss Me Guido, and other rubbish of this kind, it features yet another confused nelly drama queen, this one comes even in full make up and camp regalia at times, falling for a straight man, learning that he will never be his, and then stepping back and watching as this straight man gets the girl at the end. Vlad is the Straight Dude that ends up in Camp Ovation, a music and drama camp, and learns that he's the only straight guy in a camp filled with straight girls and gay boys. After sampling the wares of the stereotypical Bitch Queen Jenna, he reels in the insensitive and curvy Ellen and attracts the attention of his gay roommate Michael. Along the way Vlad saves the day by encouraging everyone to sing the music of the drunk has-been playwright and camp music teacher Bert, causing Bert to magically become sober again. It's all about Vlad. Vlad is Straight, therefore he is Hot, so everyone loves Vlad and wants to sleep with Vlad.

It is quite insulting that none of the stereotypical nelly boys in Camp Ovation never seem to have relationships with each other - they are only waiting for Vlad to make their hormones bloom. But the ultimate insult has to be Vlad. Where did they find Daniel Letterle that plays Vlad? This young man, who looks like an uglier bastard child of Casey Affleck and a member of the UK boyband Busted, is so bland that he actually speaks his lines in a monotone throughout the entire movie. Letterle looks like one of those bland hairless Teen Beat centerfolds, which probably explains his casting, but he cannot act at all. Vlad is badly written enough as it is, with me never knowing why this inconsistent guy is so adored by everyone in Camp Ovation, and his toothless take on Rolling Stones' Wild Horses suggest that he's more matchbox twenty than the real deal. But watching Letterle trying to mumble his lines throughout the entire movie? Ugh, stab me with an ice pick, somebody.

But bad acting is all around, even if Letterle is the worst of the cast. Bad writing is also evident, in the awkward lines meant as witty one-liners and especially in that stupid tease scene between Vlad and Michael in the final twenty minutes of the movie. I should probably point out that the movie doesn't even offer any happy ending, more like a bittersweet ending where love isn't the fun thing like it's meant to be. The music isn't even much good either - the singing is subpar, the original music is cloying and juvenile, and the choreography is of a high school production quality. The movie has its priorities all screwed up. Michael's story with his estranged parents is interesting, as is the brief scene of an overweight girl trying too hard to diet to please her overly-critical father, but these subplots are shoved to the backburner for the Vlad/Michael/Ellen nonsense, and the nonsense is a dull beyond belief story of three robotic creatures trying to emote and drive me up the wall with their non-acting ability.

There is nothing camp in this nearly two-hour movie. In fact, there is nothing of worth in Camp. It's just a dumb movie unsure of whether it wants to be a formulaic Gay Movie or a Fame wannabe and ends up the second coming of suck instead. Only for people that are so starved for any gay or camp movie - especially those that believe that Queer As Folk is the Authority on Gay Lifestyle - that they are willing to settle for insulting and dull dreck like Camp.

Rating: 45


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