Theater Camp parents guide

Theater Camp Parent Guide

The mockumentary format enhances the deadpan humor but feels disjointed and disconnected.

Overall C

Theaters: When a run down theater camp for kids risks getting shut down, the eccentric teachers have to band together with the founder's son to keep the camp afloat.

Release date August 4, 2023

Violence B+
Sexual Content B
Profanity C-
Substance Use C

Why is Theater Camp rated PG-13? The MPAA rated Theater Camp PG-13 for some strong language and suggestive/drug references.

Run Time: 94 minutes

Parent Movie Review

Camp AdirondACTS holds a place in the hearts of the drama students who honed their skills and established friendships over the summers. Brilliant directors like Amos (Ben Platt) and musicians like Rebecca-Diane (Molly Gordon) have devoted their talents to coaching another generation of performers. But when camp founder Joan Rubinsky (Amy Sedaris) has a seizure and falls into a coma, the financially-strapped institution’s survival is at stake.

Joan’s son assumes control of the camp, but Troy (Jimmy Tatro) is no theater kid. He’s a brash vlogger with dreams of the stock market and a hopelessly gauche vibe. As the banks circle and a neighboring camp tries to buy the land, Troy comes up with increasingly impractical ideas. Failing to listen to the perspectives of staff or campers, he puts the camp in even deeper peril.

Theater Camp is filmed as a mockumentary, which gives it a dry, deadpan sense of humor. Unfortunately, the format also makes it feel choppy and disconnected. Directors Molly Gordon and Nick Lieberman also fail to give the movie a clear focus. The story bounces around between Troy’s troubles and Amos and Rebecca-Diane’s co-dependent relationship and then briefly spotlights a few of the young campers and flamboyant instructors. It’s difficult to get emotionally invested here since Troy is so shallow, the teaching staff are so self-absorbed, and the young campers are never more than ciphers. Ironically, the film scores well on sardonic wit but poorly on character development.

I’m not entirely sure who’s going to want to watch Theater Camp. Theater kids would be the natural audience – and would appreciate the diversity and LGBTQ representation that mirrors the real-life world of school theater groups – but this movie doesn’t seem to be made for them. Given its focus and themes, this production feels like it’s aimed at adults who are feeling nostalgic for their own youthful thespian efforts but now appreciate the complexities of the adult world. Even then, using so much time to explore Amos and Rebecca-Diane’s tortured relationship feels like a lost opportunity.

As times get tough at camp, Joan’s words are used to motivate the staff and campers: “We’re theater people. We know how to turn cardboard into gold.” This movie isn’t gold but at least it’s reasonably well decorated cardboard.

Directed by Molly Gordon, Nick Lieberman. Starring Ben Platt, Molly Gordon, Noah Galvin. Running time: 94 minutes. Theatrical release August 4, 2023. Updated

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Theater Camp
Rating & Content Info

Why is Theater Camp rated PG-13? Theater Camp is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for some strong language and suggestive/drug references.

Violence: One child slaps another.
Sexual Content: Several characters identify as LGBTQ. There’s brief mention of someone having an affair. A costume is described as resembling female genitalia. There’s a discussion of virginity in the context of casting children for a play: there is no sexual detail. It’s implied that a man and woman have sex but there is no physical contact on screen.
Profanity: There are approximately 15 terms of deity, three scatological curses, a few minor profanities and anatomical terms, and a single sexual expletive.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adults drink alcohol that has been confiscated from underage campers. An adult mentions that his CBD gummies are missing: it is implied that a sleeping child is the thief. An adult drinks alcohol to excess and make poor decisions as a result. Cocaine is mentioned on a couple of occasions and is abstractly depicted on stage. Underage children serve alcohol in a catering situation. A cook drinks alcohol from the bottle and then pours some into the meal she is cooking for underage campers.

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Home Video

Related home video titles:

For a squeaky clean look at school drama, kids can watch High School Musical, High School Musical 2, and High School Musical 3 – Senior Year.

Bitten by the performing bug and unable to land a role in his school play, a 13-year-old heads for the bright lights of Broadway in Better Nate than Ever.

For films about summer camp, you can try Camp Rock, Magic Camp, Space Camp, Daddy Day Camp, andA Week Away