Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Camp Rock (2008)

IMDb plot summary: At a music camp for gifted teens, a popular teen idol overhears a girl singing and sets out to find who the talented voice belongs to. What he doesn't know is that the girl is actually a camp kitchen worker with a fear of being heard.
Directed by Matthew Diamond. Starring Demi Lovato, Joe Jonas, Meaghan Martin and Alyson Stoner.

Let me start off by saying I am actually a pretty big fan of the High School Musical movies, and this is not nearly as entertaining. Part of that has to do with the fact that Joe Jonas' broodiness is not as fun as the way-too-sincere Zac Efron, but most of it because this movie is ALL confused about proper pacing for a musical. There are like a grand total of 3 songs for the first hour and 15 minutes, and then in the last 20 minutes they suddenly do SONG AFTER SONG AFTER SONG with almost no breaks in between. It's like they said, "OH! This is supposed to be a musical! Shoot, we forgot."

Now granted, of those last 5 songs, the two upbeat ones are super fun and the two ballads sung at the Final Jam are very satisfying. (Peggy's empowerment ballad was actually quite moving. Way to go, movie.) So I didn't MIND a bunch of songs in a row. I just wish I hadn't had to sit through the first hour to get to them.

The other place this misses the mark -- and I wrote an entire blog about this back when Smash was on the air, comparing Smash and Glee -- is that, until the end, there's no emotional connection to the songs. One of the dangers of doing a musical where it makes sense for the actors to be singing (because the characters themselves are performing or singing in the context of the story) is that you can miss out on the emotion. My favorite thing about musicals is when characters just can't hold on to their emotions anymore and it comes out in song form. To me, that can be very powerful and is the main draw of the entire musical genre. Here, I'm not sure there's a single out-of-story-context song, and although they manage to make some of them coincide with the emotional tone of the story (once again, Peggy's song is a great example), it's hard to get much of an emotional musical response when the character's motivation for singing at all is "well, it's time for me to sing."

Anyway, that is probably FAR more detailed analysis than this movie deserved. I just have a lot of opinions on musicals. :-)

TL,DR: The final 20 minutes are a lot of fun and have some good moments, but the first 2/3 of the movie is not great.

2.5 stars.

Flickchart: #953 out of 2097, below Happythankyoumoreplease and above The Illusionist.

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