As summer rolls around again, kids are gathering from all over to attend AdirondACTS, a scrappy theater camp in upstate New York that’s a haven for budding performers. After its indomitable founder Joan (Amy Sedaris) falls into a coma, her clueless “crypto-bro” son Troy (Jimmy Tatro) is tasked with keeping the thespian paradise running. With financial ruin looming, Troy must join forces with Amos (Ben Platt), Rebecca-Diane (Molly Gordon), and their band of eccentric teachers to come up with a solution before the curtain rises on opening night.
First-time feature directorial duo Molly Gordon and Nick Lieberman embrace the loony Jewishness, Gayness, and nerdy thespian concept of summer theater camps to the max.
To hear the kids here tricking out and over tricking musical numbers upends the concepts of the child phenom. These kids are smart, at times too smart, for their own good .
Their talent strides the line between kitsch and Broadway pros. They know all the songs and lines, but can’t really distinguish the difference between the competent karaoke version and the legendary one. They know the mechanics of theaters, some of the heart, but not the brains.
In a characterization class a student calls the counselor an acting teacher. He corrects her mischaracterization- “I am a performer that works full time as an acting teacher.”. It get that delusion from reality that Theater Camp exists on.
The liberal teachers are always over correcting their political correctness. They’re not prostitutes in Les Mis but sex workers. All this while the kid manning the spotlight complains that their movements are too easy for them to track.
Of course everyone here is part of a union. Nonunion is the frightening end moral that the kids hear from the counselors when they read them bedtime stories.
The counselors are not teaching theater. They are performing stage rehearsals of their failing plays.
The film isn’t really a picture that thrives on plotting, but vignettes, slices of life, fail poets that can see life’s tree but not the whole forest life of trees and the creatures in them. It has all the cluelessness needed for great comedy to run amok but stay real.
Some performers get jobs performing elsewhere and the full time counselors get jealous and annoyed and the main lovers will break up. This was the goal all along, to live their perfect theater life here, in this camp. The hard acting life was never for them. It’s their forever character flaw.
Working through the inevitable infidelities, insecurities, betrayals, doubts the play does come. A lead is lost to the floodlights. The show goes on. It’s essentially a historical musical revue that justifies their teaching jobs. Like them, it’s glorious, awful all at once- the essential Jewish, gay and theater experience all in a tidy life mess.
DIRECTOR(S) MOLLY GORDON NICK LIEBERMAN SCREENWRITER NOAH GALVIN MOLLY GORDON NICK LIEBERMAN BEN PLATT PRODUCER ERIK FEIG SAMIE KIM FALVEY JULIA HAMMER RYAN HELLER MARIA ZUCKERMAN JESSICA ELBAUM WILL FERRELL NOAH GALVIN MOLLY GORDON NICK LIEBERMAN BEN PLATT EXECUTIVE PRODUCER ALEX BROWN MARY BUNDY JEFF VALERI SHAYNE FISKE GOLDNER JIMMY TATRO JENNIFER SEMLER MICHAEL BLOOM CAST MOLLY GORDON BEN PLATT NOAH GALVIN JIMMY TATRO PATTI HARRISON AYO EDIBIRI AMY SEDARIS CAROLINE AARON NATHAN LEE GRAHAM OWEN THIELE ALAN KIM YEAR 2022 CATEGORY FEATURE COUNTRY UNITED STATES LANGUAGE ENGLISH RUN TIME 94 MIN COMPANY SUNSHINE SACHS