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Molly Gordon and Nick Lieberman’s Theater Camp is a brilliant mockumentary that brings the eccentric, out-of-this-world energy of a theater camp to life for those who may not have had the opportunity to attend. The film is a wonderful satire of all things stage and camp, with pieces that are laugh-out-loud hilarious for someone unaffiliated with all things camp; it’s sure to be a hit for those with that connection.
I am 100% certain that Theater Camp is one of the 2023 films I will re-watch the most. Experiencing something made by people in a specific industry with so much joy for its subject matter, especially when it is something you share, is terrific. The film is a mockumentary love letter to theater performers and musical fans with almost pitch-perfect comedy and plenty of famous songs to sing along with briefly. The story kicks off when beloved low-cost theater camp owner Joan (Amy Sedaris) falls into a coma during a rousing “Honestly Sincere” performance from BYE BYE BIRDIE, and I was instantly hooked. From there, her very much not a theater kid son Troy (Jimmy Tatro) must run the camp over the summer and stave off a hostile takeover from a neighboring rich kids’ camp while Amos (Ben Platt) and Rebecca-Diane (Molly Gordon) write and compose a musical to teach the diverse group of talented kids. The pacing is breezy, and it touches on (a.k.a. makes fun of) most production elements and the array of personality types you typically find among artists. It’s also an easy Best Ensemble contender, with Molly Gordon’s hilariously touching performance being a standout and Noah Galvin knocking my socks off. The finale performance was INCREDIBLE and had me happy-crying throughout. Musicals rule!
If you were a theatre kid in any way, you would understand the woe of Theater Camp and its joy. A stunningly funny feature from Molly Gordon and Nick Lieberman, the mockumentary is a love letter to theatre while poking fun at it.
Theater Camp rules!! I couldn’t be happier with how this nerdy film turned out!! It’s an instant classic. Truly. Hilarious and heartfelt and pitch-perfect in every way. Not a moment I wasn’t smiling all the way through, I loved every scene of it, and every filmmaking choice delivered precisely what was right to make this near-perfect. The build-up to the final musical number(s), the twists and turns throughout, and the performances from the kids and the theater camp staff are all as brilliant as they should be. A must-watch with an audience film, preferably in the theater if you can, but even with friends at home – to make it an enjoyable, laugh-your-ass-off comedy experience.
Theater kids will fall in love with this Christopher Guest mockumentary-style film that follows a group of eccentric summer camp counselors and their talented campers as they deal with an unusual experience this year. Even those who never were involved in drama will get a kick out of the over-the-top scenarios they all find themselves in.
Theater Camp bookends its story with a tumultuous opening night that sees the true juxtaposition of parody and respect implemented. While the movie might be a humorous look at the dramatic arts, it soars when the premise becomes more personal for all involved.
Kevin L Lee
I am an absolute sucker for wholesome movies like Theater Camp. It is ridiculously funny — the writing, editing, and mockumentary format all come together. The performances from the whole cast (especially the children) are delightful! And that song at the end!
From the cast to the clever script to the sight gags to the final musical (complete with well-written and poorly-written musical numbers), Theater Camp is a blast from start to finish. And I’ll admit, I think I enjoyed this more than Waiting for Guffman. Christopher Guest’s mockumentaries are enjoyable, but a surreal quality keeps us at a distance. This film rings scarily accurate and relatable, which makes it all the more comical.
The creatives behind Theater Camp know its world cold and mine every barbed (but loving) joke with absolute care. In its own way, though, it’s also a film about dreams — the starry-eyed dreams of aspiring young actors with visions of Broadway in their heads matched with the fading dreams of their adult teachers, who have found themselves returning to the only place on earth where they can still be considered stars. To the stage and the people who populate it, “Theater Camp” is a loving, funny tribute.
A cross between Waiting for Guffman and Meatballs. Theater Camp has some indie charm, heart, and laughs. Ok, so it may not be as sharp as Guffman and could’ve used an “it just doesn’t matter” type scene, but it pulls off an earned good ending.
if you want some good-natured laughs, it’s a great choice.
Theater Camp is a light-hearted comedy celebrating all things theater. As a lifelong theater lover, I appreciated the film for paying homage to countless plays and musicals while not being afraid to poke fun at them. While I enjoyed watching this film at Sundance, it played even better on repeat viewings. The film is so sharply written, and you tell that Noah Galvin, Molly Gordon, Nick Lieberman, and Ben Platt all not only worked in theater but “get” theater, which is why the film works so well. While this film will play better for those with some knowledge or understanding of the theater scene, others will enjoy Jimmy Tatro’s character for being the outcast and appreciate how he desperately tries to understand the world. It’s a very well-rounded film and one that never overstays its welcome. Theater Camp is a delightful change of pace for the summer movie season.
Theater Camp is made for theater and musical fans and is laugh-out-loud funny. The mockumentary style is fitting for this heartwarming comedy, and it pays tribute to the many aspects of theater production, from casting to stage lighting.
Theatre Camp is a fun and heartwarming look at the childhood of young actors in the making. You can see the care and time put into the story from co-director and star Molly Gordon, who gives a laugh-out-loud performance alongside real childhood best friend, Ben Platt.
At only 93 minutes, Theater Camp is refreshingly brisk, although it can feel undercooked in some departments. It would’ve been nice to see more of Ayo Edebiri as a clueless teacher faking it until she makes it. A few character dynamics needed more exploration, especially if the filmmakers wanted us to get invested in the camp’s fate truly. One could almost see this premise reaching its full potential as a sitcom. I think Glee meets Abbott Elementary. As a standalone film, though, Theater Camp is charming, witty, and relatable for anyone who has ever been in a school musical. Maybe it could’ve used a couple more workshops, but the kids put on quite a show.
Paul McGuire Grimes
It made me think of this as a Waiting for Guffman for a new generation. This has the same kind of nod to Broadway as the new AppleTV series Schmigadoon which has fun Easter eggs if you know your Broadway history. It’s hysterical, somewhat cringy, and slightly inappropriate at times, which feels absolutely correct regarding theater camps.
Theater Camp knows exactly who it is and who it is catering to even if the characterizations aren’t always grounded in reality. Noah Galvin steals the show. If you know the difference between Stephen Schwartz and Stephen Sondheim, this movie is for you.
Theater Camp is a fun diversion with talented actors desperately trying to recreate the magic of a great Christopher Guest mockumentary. It’s groundbreaking in only one way: I can’t remember seeing a film where all of its memorable, funny moments are in the trailer.
Theater Camp is as sweaty and desperate for approval as a drama club kid with all the ambition and none of the chops. It prizes cheap jokes over its characters. By the time it gets to its finale, consisting of multiple genuinely good and funny original songs, it’s too little too late.