Unlike the 1980’s dancical Shag, this years attempt at redoing the Fame formula Camp revels in the dual meaning of its title. Yes, this may ostensiably be a teen movie set in a summer camp, but this is a theatrical summer camp. It is certainly the gayest teen movie you have ever seen (with the potential exception of But I’m A Cheerleader which was more of an out and out comedy rather than a straight teen movie. I mean it obviously wasn’t a straight teen movie but – look you know what I mean).

Camp opens with a tremendous Jesus Christ Superstar type opening number and then fails to ever top that moment. It is a film which obviously loves show tunes (and some pretty lousy ones at that) but does not have the courage to wholeheartedly display its own love. Plot is simple, the lives and loves of a bunch of kids who go to Camp Ovation, which is soon dissected to a bunch of bitch stage-struck girls and openly gay boys. It is not quite a teenage La Cages Aux Folles, but its not a million miles away in places. The film skirts around the discussion of the relationship between gay stereotypes and being actual self definition (and whilst we are aware of plenty hetereo sex in the film, the homo sex is never referred to) but in the end thinks it wants to please its teen audience above, most of whom would hate this bunch of thesps. The actor kids are the misfits, the freaks, the fags and faghags of their respective schools and only at camp can they blossom and be themselves. And listen to Stephen Sondheim.

Sondheim is the god invoked in this film; this may be due to his position as available special guest star. But his songs which get played show his weaknesses as an arranger, maybe divorced from their context they lose something but the best showstoppers have a life outside their plays. Which is what Camp should have done. It is quite plain that rather than the constant modern non-diagetic soundtrack in between numbers they could have instead tailored the tunes to the plot (ironic commentary if needed). This only happens once, maybe twice and those are the best parts of the movie. Like Moulin Rouge completely failed to cherry pick any decent pop songs for its singers to work with, Camp has a pretty poor selection of musicals to work with.

What is good about Camp is the completely unknown cast, especially the really rather creepily perfect Vlad in the main role. Plot wise there is nothing new, and it really does rely far to much on the Fame template. It drops the ball on the potential of being a musical though, which is most annoying.