Summer Camp

Summer Camp
Summer Camp
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Summer Camp was on the side of three things: actresses Diane Keaton, Kathy Bates and Alfre Woodard, who have all won awards for their acting and are among the very best actresses of our time. It is unfortunate though that writer-director Castille Landon (After Ever Happy) wasn’t able to make better use of their skills in a comedy about three childhood friends who go back to their beloved summer camp where they met. However, in the latter half of the film there are some signs of light as semblance to something resembling a real plot does emerge, almost redeeming the film but at that point it has already sailed away across the lake without any oars whatsoever.

Summer Camp is just a feel good story about Nora (Keaton), Ginny (Bates), and Mary (Woodard) who became best friends when they were kids during summer camping excursions. Time, responsibilities and aging thus made them tired at least two out of them so that when an invitation for summer camp reunion comes through it takes them back to where their love began. It gives each one of them an opportunity to revisit their lives more deeply and realize how important keeping such friendships can be.

Strong idea. Bad execution. But if you can survive until midway through this movie then you will have some fun times with it; also don’t be surprised by its cast including Beverly D’Angelo, Eugene Levy, Dennis Haysbert , Josh Peck , Nicole Richie , Betsy Sodaro.

Among these stars shining here, Kathy Bates stands out brightly. The Miracle Club actress brings a lot of spunk into a script looking for soul and depth. Bates portrays Ginny—a bestselling author—who is also the primary narrator in Summer Camp movie. She desperately wants her two buddies out of this rut they’re stuck in; which is consistent with her calling as an inspirational writer—think Oprah but via Brené Brown with shades or Rhonda Byrne. Nora, portrayed by Keaton, has turned into a workaholic ever since she was widowed many years ago. Woodard’s Mary, on the other hand, is stuck in a failed marriage that might not be resuscitated through therapy.

The guys too come in later but they hardly amount to much until the second part of the film. That includes Eugene Levy as Stevie and Dennis Haysbert as Tommy. If Hollywood has had any shortage of suitable comic roles for talented older actors, this film shows it. As an actor Levy feels out of place and trapped although he also sort makes it work because his charm overrides everything else.

Haysbert is not as lucky. His Tommy was once a summer camp crush with Mary, and they may still have a chance, but the film was either cut too much or Tommy just wasn’t written well enough. However, these great actors are just boring to watch for over half of the movie. For example, if you came into Starbucks and find Cher singing there, you would watch it but wonder what in God’s name is Cher doing singing in Starbucks.

But wait! Halfway through this scraping off the frosting. Hints of depth begin to emerge. We learn more about Mary’s troubled marriage; finally Woodard is given a chance to show what her character has really been like all along. Keaton doesn’t do that bad with Nora who stays mostly two-dimensional but here Levy comes in as the knight on shining armor because his character draws out things from Nora that have been buried.

Next up there’s Bates. Ginny is enabling these ladies to come back together again after so long an absence. At some point we were afraid she’d say “I got cancer,” cause the mood and tone of this film suggested that Ginny was keeping things too close to her chest. Compare that to such films where revealing that one has cancer could make a better movie even if we’ve grown tired of movies with threads like this. However she turns out to be smart girl voice and heart too for this film.

On the other hand, supporting players such as Beverly D’Angelo never get more than their fill-ins would be needed by the screenwriter for certain issues like loss, death, renewal or reinvention]. Betsy Sodaro (Ghosts) does a great job of being funny throughout this scene which makes her one of the most enjoyable parts about Forever Summer Camp in general when she takes on one goofy role kind of playing Forever Summer Camp nerd in dorky way part while Gainesville’s own!

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