What happens when a mockumentary is filmed about a summer theater camp on the verge of closing down? Pure chaos.
When the matriarch of the AdirondACTS camp Joan Rubinsky (Amy Sedaris) falls into a coma, it’s up to her son Troy (the very funny Jimmy Tatro) and the rest of the camp counselors to keep it open. Two camp counselors/theater teachers Rebecca-Diane and Amos (played by Molly Gordon and Ben Platt) concoct a plan to create a musical about Joan herself and throw themselves into their jobs teaching the students the musical numbers.
Meanwhile, the nearby Camp Lakeside sends the film’s villain (played by Patti Harrison) to seduce Troy and to get him to sign over ownership of the camp. With a new crop of students, the entire camp falls into controlled chaos as kids try to learn their lines with straight faces while the counselors make them try the most ridiculous theater exercises.
I wouldn’t describe Theater Camp as a kid’s movie despite the movie’s content. While there are children in it, most of the bulk of the story follows the neurotic Amos, hippy Rebecca-Diane, and the “bro” vibe of Troy. The adults are probably the most clueless in this film as they bumble through the summer trying to keep the camp and the final performance afloat. Much of the comedy in Theater Camp comes from actors purposefully acting dense and pretending the absurd situations in the camp are completely normal.
The final performance is easily the best part of the film and brings everything into perspective. Despite the chaos and bad news that Troy seemingly sold the camp, the cast and crew pull it together, and Theater Camp clicks into place. All of the ridiculous exercises and conversations are preparation for kids who absolutely throw their entire souls into the performance.
Despite the touching ending, I did feel like not showcasing the child actors was a mistake. We don’t really know anything about their characters so it’s hard to feel a connection and the film feels really rushed because of this. The counselors and Troy are a different story and Ayo Edebiri shines as a camp counselor who lied on her resume to get her job.
Theater Camp is an uneven but amusing mockumentary about carving out your own place in the world despite the world being annoyed or uninterested in your journey.
Rating ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Trigger warnings: Stronge Language. Theater Camp is currently streaming on Hulu.
Theater Camp arrived on Digital and Hulu on September 14.
- Side by Side by Side: A Theater Camp Chat – Go backstage with the creative team of THEATER CAMP as they discuss why being in sync as actors, writers, friends, and filmmakers brought their comedy to life. Featuring Ben Platt, Molly Gordon, Noah Galvin, Jimmy Tatro, Owen Thiele, and Nick Lieberman.
- Deleted Scenes – Enjoy a front-row seat to some of the funniest material ever to grace a cutting room floor in this string of highly amusing deleted scenes.
- Extended Scenes – Sometimes the comic magic just can’t be contained in the final cut. So, when enough isn’t quite enough and you crave just a little bit more, these extended scenes are the perfect thing to satisfy you!
- Talent Showcase Reels
- Rebecca-Diane – Watch Molly Gordon, as everyone’s favorite music instructor Rebecca-Diane, explore her craft in this showcase of eclectic and riotous improvised moments.
- Amos – Ben Platt explores the nuances of his craft to hilarious ends as his character (camp acting instructor Amos) engages with his students and fellow camp personnel.
- Troy – Witness the uniquely funny Jimmy Tatro, as entrepreneurial Troy, fumble his way through the intensely creative world of theater kids and their instructors.
- Songwriting with Rebecca-Diane and Amos – If one improv genius is fun, two are a riot. In this showcase, enjoy as Molly Gordon and Ben Platt, as Rebecca-Diane and Amos, work together to write a musical number, veering into tangents so funny they can hardly keep from breaking character.
- Troy Meets with Rebecca-Diane and Amos – Molly Gordon, Ben Platt, and Jimmy Tatro take the audience on a delightful ride as they explore the deleted scene where Troy first meets Rebecca-Diane and Amos.
- Bloopers – With a cast as funny as this, it’s no surprise that even these pros couldn’t keep from cracking up. This outtake reel reveals just how hard it can be to keep a straight face.