“Theater Camp”

Theater kids past and present will love “Theater Camp,” a very funny mockumentary from first-time feature directorial duo Molly Gordon and Nick Lieberman. The low budget film, which gives off strong “Waiting for Guffman” vibes, is stuffed with insider performing arts humor that will delight drama geeks. The jokes may not land with the popular kids, but that’s absolutely not the group this movie was made for.

It’s summertime in upstate New York, and talented kids are gathering for their annual pilgrimage to the run-down AdirondACTS theater camp. This year is different, however. The camp’s beloved founder Joan (Amy Sedaris) has fallen into a coma, which means her doofus adult son Troy (Jimmy Tatro) has to step in to run things this year. Running low on funds and facing permanent closure, Troy must work with counselors Amos (Ben Platt), Rebecca-Diane (Gordon), and the rest of the eccentric drama instructors to find a solution before it’s too late.

There are plenty of laughs in the premise alone, but the jokes are memorable and the script is filled with quotable one-liners. The film captures creative types with pitch-perfect accuracy, down to the free spirited personalities and obsessive desire for perfection in their art. The cast is so talented, which is especially evident in the grand finale musical production, but some of the characters are annoying and begin grating on your nerves early on (as grandiose theater kids are prone to do).

The film has a mumblecore quality that’s unusually appealing here because it works within the context of the film’s style and tone, but the repetitiveness of the storytelling gets old quickly. Luckily, the charm of the cast and the themes about struggling to belong, being yourself, and finding a place where outcasts can feel at home is irresistible.

“Theater Camp” is a funny film with a sweet message that has the potential to become a bonafide cult classic among theater kids.

By: Louisa Moore

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