Movie Review by Susan Hodgetts
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Daniel Letterle, Chris Spain, Don Dixon, Sasha Allen
Director: Todd Graff
This warm and witty feel-good movie is everything FAME ACADEMY TV series is not – riveting, funny and very human.
At the beginning of the summer holidays in America a group of misfit kids arrive at Camp Ovation, a performing arts summer camp, where they have to put on a different show every 2 weeks of an 8-week stay.
Picked on, ridiculed at school and at home, the kids embark on a journey of self-discovery involving heartbreak, companionship and discovering their true selves.
At first they’re not helped by the camp director Bert Hanley, a washed up, cynical alcoholic and once successful musician-songwriter fallen on hard times. He thinks the kids need a hard lesson in reality, but they end up teaching him more than he bargains for.
The film is ultimately an ensemble piece but largely centres around Vlad, who appears to be America’s typical apple pie boy and just wants to be liked by everyone; Ellen, who is so unpopular at school that she has to pay her brother to take her to the junior prom; and Michael, a teenage transvestite struggling to find his identity and gain acceptance.
The kids’ performances are all amazingly mature, and writer/director Graff has coaxed brilliantly natural performances out of them all. This is helped by a tight script, which is adult and very funny as well as extremely warm. It’s obvious how this film was a labour of love for Graff (who attended the very same summer camp himself) and all of those involved.
You’ll love this if you loved FAME or BUGSY MALONE.