Camp

dir. Graff

Opens Fri Aug 8

Pioneer Place

Due to its bright colors and flaming personality, the Drama Nerd is a highly recognizable, much-loathed human specimen. The Drama Nerd generally draws too much attention to everything it says, and is aroused by any mention of Stephen Sondheim. The Drama Nerd is hated by hipsters due to its exuberant love of showtunes.

Every summer, in every state, young budding Drama Nerds congregate at a place called Drama Camp, where they can, for a short time, be with people who don't despise them. Todd Graff's Camp is about such a place, an elite performing arts camp in the outdoors of some generic woodsy state. Populating this place are perfectly realized Drama Nerd stereotypes, which can be found in every high school in America. There's the slutty, makeup-encrusted prima donna. There's the young gay man who finds love and tolerance in the drama community, and also a place to not get his ass kicked; there's the fag hag who loves and tolerates him. And there's the token gorgeous, immensely talented, slightly androgynous guy, who nobody's quite "sure about," if you get my drift.

Graff's endlessly compassionate cast of unknowns gives after-school-special hammy, yet completely sincere performances. The film's title is deceptively accurate; with enormous, unabashed musical numbers tossed into the mix, it really doesn't get any "campier" than this. And yet, there are fleshed-out characters here, with issues that will hit home with the most stubborn of cynics. An older Drama Nerd battles alcoholism as he tries to resurrect his flailing career; a young woman battles braces and a neglectful father to pursue what she loves. People and subplots fill Graff's joyous movie until it bursts at the seams.

So many, many of you will hate this movie, but some of you will love it beyond belief. You are the ones who have stood backstage, waiting to go on. You are the ones who know every word to the Rent soundtrack and sing it, full blast, as you do the dishes. You are the ones who will celebrate and cherish this film. I know this because I love it, and I am one of you.