Saturday, July 19, 2008

Rants on Camp Rock

I promise to eventually stop posting about stuff only 13 year old girls care about and move on to "serious" cinema, but Camp Rock (Matthew Diamond, 2008) is so atrocious, so devoid of any point or charm, with a script and songs so poorly written they make High School Musical looks like it was written by Paddy Chayefsky and music by Kander & Ebb, that I just had to share my feelings about it.

First of all, let me just say that I have no idea why I watched this film in the first place. I haven't liked a Disney Channel movie since Alley Cats Strike back when I was nearly 13, I don't like the Jonas Brothers (yeah, they're so rocking) and I knew that the music was going to be nearly as dreadful as the HSM movies (and how). Still, acknowledging all that, I caught an airing of it last Sunday and couldn't believe what I was watching. I was almost embarrassed at certain times that I was littering my mind with this trash.

The premise of Camp Rock is, not surprisingly, simple: A poor girl Mitchie (Demi Lovato) gets the opportunity to attend Camp Rock for the summer after her caterer mother accepts a job as the cook there. Superstar rocker Shane Grey (Joe Jonas) is forced by bandmates Jason (Kevin Jonas) and Nate (Nick Jonas) and his label to improve his bad boy image and spend the summer helping out at Camp Rock, the place where they got their start together. While Shane walks around with a stick up his ass for the first half of the movie-- of which, mercifully, he's only shown for about 10 or so minutes-- Mitchie tries to be part of the cool crowd, led by mean girl Tess (Meaghan Jette Martin), and ends up telling everyone this ridiculous lie about her mother that she works as a VP for a huge record label in China. As what usually happens in these films, Mitchie eventually gets caught in her lie and must bravely admit the truth to everyone and then loudly proclaims that she's sorry she ever lied and Shane gets back to basics, discovers his artistic voice again (with the help of Mitchie, of course) and loudly proclaims that he's not a bad boy anymore. Throw in a couple of predictable songs-- with such obvious titles as "This is Me" and "We Rock" (which, coincidentally, is not very rockin')-- and some predictable teenage stereotypes and you've got the bulk of Camp Rock.

One of the oddest things about Camp Rock is the fact that it hints at a blossoming relationship between Mitchie and Shane, but never really goes through with it all the way. In High School Musical, Troy and Gabriella never kissed and yet you still believed there was a something romantic going on between the two; here, you get Mitchie and Shane staring soulfully into each other's eyes and it never feels like anything more than an obnoxious Sharpay and Ryan talent show act.

Maybe the lack of chemistry between the two of them can be attributed to the awful acting going on here. Things were going so badly for these "actors" that eventually I was praying for Vanessa Hudgens to appear and save the day. Yes, I said it: Save the day. The scene in the limo between the Jonas Brothers should have been my first clue to turn this shit off. The purpose of the scene is to set up the defining characteristics of the group-- Shane is the bad boy, Nate is the wise one and Jason is the stupid one (and when I say "stupid" I really should say "complete fucktard who can hardly breathe on his own"). Unfortunately for us and for the film, Joe Jonas is such a bad actor he makes Jessica Alba look like Julianne Moore. He tries way too hard, emphasizes every line in the wrong spot and sounds completely forced. Compare him to his brothers who may not be especially gifted, but they at least sound and act as naturally as the script allows them. Worst of all, we're stuck with Joe for the rest of the movie while Nick and Kevin pop up randomly for seconds at a time.

Demi Lovato is pretty good as far as these things goes. She's a decent actress with a better than average voice for a Disney film, but she won't have a lasting career. I must say I was supremely disappointed with Meaghan Jette Martin's Tess, who was given a prime opportunity to steal the show but failed miserably and ended up embarrassing herself. My main problem is that Martin couldn't decide if she wanted to be Regina George or Sharpay Evans, tried to mix them together and had it blow up in her face. Add that to the fact that she couldn't carry a tune if her life depended on it and that breakdown scene after her mother takes a phone call during her performance was abysmal (we can see you don't have any tears- don't pretend to wipe them away). At the end of the film, we're supposed to pity Tess, but it's hard to feel anything for a character who's neither divaliciously funny or a misunderstood girl. In the hands of a better actress we might have gotten something here; unfortunately, we're stuck with Martin.

The worst scene There's so many to choose from (the aforementioned Tess breakdown, Mitchie slipping on the bucket of water, the montage of girls singing for Shane) but the one that pissed me off the most was the hip-hop dance class scene. Why? Of all the people in the world, why would this skinny white kid from New Jersey, who's supposed to be a rocker, wearing way-too-tight white jeans be your first pick to teach a class in hip-hop dance? The whole thought process behind it was completely retarded and should have been changed somewhere after the first draft. Here's an idea: since it's called Camp Rock, why not make it a "Rock Like a Rockstar" class a la School of Rock. Shane's a "rocker" (I use that term loosely) so have him teach the campers all of the moves a rock star needs to be successful. I know, I know, it's a stupid idea, but it at least makes more sense than hip-hop dance.

The best scene The only scene that I care to remember a week later is this way-too-short exchange between Nate and Jason when they call up Shane and ask about his progress. Somewhere along the line someone should have realized that the only thing that was working in this film was the constant bickering between these two and revolved the movie around them.

I know I shouldn't be this hard on a Disney Channel movie since they're catering to a demographic that couldn't give a shit about lapses in judgment and quality. Then again, High School Musical was no masterpiece either, but parts of it worked and made up for the stuff that really didn't work. Camp Rock had no such winning elements that made up for it's crappy moments; it was one big dung field from start to finish. F


J.D. said...

That was (*sniffle*) beautiful.

Things were going so badly for these "actors" that eventually I was praying for Vanessa Hudgens to appear and save the day. Yes, I said it: Save the day.

Quote. Of. The. Year.

I still haven't seen it - hell, the only reasons I ever did was because it has Alyson Stoner (I luvz her) and Demi Lovato intrigues me a little bit. That's it.

Plus, Disney has always had this bad habit of constantly airing complete scenes from the movies as music videos (which worked to prove HSM2 was just a series of semi-adequate music videos lazily strung together with "plot" and "conflict"), so they've been airing chunks of the movie (including, I assume, key scenes) because there's singing in them and they're soundtrack whores.

Like, especially Martin's song (I don't even know what it's called). It sort of sounds like it could be a good song, but it's wrapped in horrible, shaky singing and plain bad theatrics. And they couldn't even make a video where the song actually ended? You know, without the random spoiler-y melodrama?

Gawd, I want the Jonas Brothers to go away.

Marcy said...

You're right: The more I think about it, the more sucky Joe Jonas's performance is. He's not convincing as a total dickhead and he's not charming enough to be a love interest. Heck, he's not even attractive. I guess I didn't mind his performance since it's his first big leading role. Eh. At least the two other Jonas brothers adequately perform the material they were given.

I actually like some of the songs, haha. They're fun, I guess. I kind of hate "We Rock," though. I think Tess's "Too Cool" is better on the full version. The lyrics crack me up.

The worse part of the movie was when Tess found Mitchie's yellow book and flipped through it--then the scene ends there. I thought she was going to do something evil with it, but she didn't. I was so disappointed. Why didn't they cut that out? Lame.

But I still think Camp Rock is kind of entertaining. I'm such a thirteen year old girl...

Kayleigh said...

Great review, you speak wisely. I refuse to watch any TV movie that the Disney Channel shows, they've become devoid of any real heart or dedication that they formed over the years and are now a quick cash making, soul selling, exploiting child labour camp who only care about making a lot of money. They don't even do predictable fun trash well, it's all awful. Can you believe the Jonas Brothers are on the cover of Rolling Stone? Sickening...okay, rant over!

Anonymous said...

yeah. i think you're right.

but i still enjoyed the movie too much to say it myself.

i actually like the jonas brothers... lol.

ed said...



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