After a series of Broadway flops, songwriter Bert Hanley (Dixon) goes to work at a musical camp for young performers. Inspired by the kids, he finds an opportunity to regain success by staging an altogether new production.
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Misfits in their lives back home, a group of young people live it up at musical-theater camp. While the sports counselor is completely ignored, the kids' spend all their time in rehearsal for a grueling schedule that involves a new show every two weeks. Several personal stories come to the fore. Is talented golden-boy Vlad honest in his feelings about Ellen? Can cross-dressing Michael have a relationship with his parents? Will one-hit-wonder musical playwrite and now camp counselor Bert Hanley remain mired in drink and cynicism? Fireworks are in store when Fritzi, who slavishly serves glamour girl Jill, is finally told to get a life, and the parents of Jenna, whose jaw has been wired shut in a compromise to avoid being sent to "fat camp", learn a valuable lesson at the summer's big end-of-season benefit. Written by
Martin Lewison <email@example.com>
In joke: Bert Hanley's character, a washed-up songwriter turned director at summer camp for theatrical kids, has the same name as the unseen business manager mentioned in 1962's Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, involving Bette Davis as a former child star. See more »
When Fritzi insults the fat girl they are discussing casting of "Promises, Promises", but that had already been settled earlier. The same problem comes up during what appears to be auditions for "Follies", which was also already settled (during the cast sheet montage, we see that the role of Carlotta, who they are singing for, has already been cast). See more »
[scene opens on Dee, Shaun and Company singing "How Shall I See You Through My Tears"]
[as singing continues, scene shifts to Vlad in his bedroom]
To all the critics out there, I know they're gonna review this, and I know they're gonna try to knock me - is it OK if I say this to the camera, Amber? - Okay. I only am who I am 'cause I was born that way. I have a gift, and I'm trying not to be selfish about it, but to use it. Okay? If you're gonna knock me for that, that's your problem....
[...] See more »
Written by Paul Westerberg
Published by WB Music Corp. (ASCAP) o/b/o itself and Nah Music
Performed by The Replacements
Courtesy of Sire Records
By Arrangement with Warner Special Products See more »
It's not perfect but I found it highly enjoyable from start to finish and consider it one of the better musicals for quite a few years
After a string of musical flops, the career of Bert Hanley is at rock bottom, which leads him to take up a position with a musical summer camp. When he arrives to teach he finds a diverse group of boys and girls who have come together to put on one musical every two weeks, leading up to one final show at the end of the camp. He is angry at the children's naïve ease of acceptance of the musical lifestyle and their apparent comfort with who they are, feeling that they are not helping themselves for when they go out into the real world. However will their energy for the music win him over or just frustrate him?
I can understand why this film didn't make a massive splash when it hit UK cinemas basically I saw a trailer for it then the next time I saw it, it was on DVD! It is very different from your average teen movie as well as being different from many musicals (not always a massive genre in themselves). I will be the first to admit that this film has weaknesses but I enjoyed it from the opening song, through to the final show there was barely a moment where I was bored or uninterested. The basic plot is a mix of minor story lines around an array of characters various romances happen, lessons are learned, eyes are opened and friendships made. It all sounds rather ordinary and, in a way, I suppose that it does do just what you expect it to. However, pretty much every other aspect of the film comes together to lift the film to be better than the script suggested it would be.
Primarily, if you hate musicals, then avoid this for it is a big part and, for me, it served as a superb foundation. The overall soundtrack is really good and is an enjoyable mix of music but it is the actual musical numbers that really lift the film. They are really enjoyable both the well known ones and the new songs; they fit in well with the narrative and act as good bits of punctuation. The narrative could have been stronger but the musical numbers mean that even if the narrative causes a slight dip, then the songs are there to provide a lift.
The characters are very well drawn, even if they don't use them that well. The fact that we have so many diverse teenagers who seem at ease with who they are is perhaps rather difficult to swallow but it certainly helps make the film feel a bit different from the usual. At first I was a bit put off by how the gay characters all seemed to be of the 'flaming' variety, but as the film went on I got over this and got to know their characters and not just their characteristics. More impressively, the whole cast (mainly teenagers) are really good they cope with the demands of the narrative (and the limitations as well) but they are very impressive when it comes to the musical numbers. One time tutor at one of these camps himself, writer/director Graff does a really good job with the direction here it never feels as low budget as I imagine it must have been and he frames many shots in involving ways.
Overall this is a standard teenage movie with all the hurts, lessons, romances and friendships that you would expect from the genre but it manages to rise above many of the genre by having different (if unrealistic) characters, roundly good performances and frequent musical numbers that never let the fun level of the film dip for too long.
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