www.whyville.net Jun 22, 2008 Weekly Issue

Times Writer

Movie Review: Camp Rock

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The Cast

Demi Lovato - Mitchie Torres
Joe Jonas - Shane Gray
Kevin Jonas - Jason
Nick Jonas - Nate
Meaghan Jette Martin - Tess Tyler
Alyson Stoner - Caitlyn
Maria Canals-Barrera - Connie Torres
Daniel Fathers - Brown Cessario
Julie Brown - Camp Counsellor
Aaryn Doyle - Lola Scott
Roshon Fegan - Sander
Jordan Francis - Barron
Jasmine Richards - Peggy
Anna Maris Perez de Tagle - Ella

The Plot

Mitchie Torres desperately wants to go to the prestigious Camp Rock for the summer. Camp Rock is the ideal place for anyone who plans to have a career in music and Mitchie has a passion for singing. However, her parents are unable to afford it. At the last minute, Mitchie's mother Connie is hired by Camp Rock as the caterer. She also gets a discount at Camp Rock and is able to send Mitchie there -- but there is one condition. Mitchie has to work in the kitchen but the overjoyed Mitchie doesn't mind.

Shane Gray is a member of the popular boy band Connect 3. Unfortunately he has let his fame get to his head. His two other band mates, Nate and Jason are fed up his attitude. So they force Shane to go to Camp Rock to reconnect with himself -- the camp where Connect 3 became a band. Not only this but Shane must record a duet with the winner of the camp's annual talent show. Shane resists going and upon arriving, he desperately wants to leave because he cannot survive over 3 hours without hair products. He soon changes his mind when he hears a mysterious girl singing. Shane is mesmerized by her beautiful voice and makes it his mission to find her. This girl of course, is Mitchie.

Mitchie befriends a fellow camper, Caitlyn. She also introduces herself to the popular trio: Peggy, Ella, and Queen Bee Tess Tyler, whose mother is famed songstress TJ Tyler. Back at home, Mitchie is extremely unpopular and only has one friend. At Camp Rock, she feels that she can start over and finally be popular. To fit in with the rich campers, Mitchie lies and said that her mother is the president of HotTunes in China. The popular group immediately invites her to bunk with them.

Mitchie soon befriends Shane Gray who tells her that "being a jerk is apart of the rock star image." But Mitchie does not see Shane as a jerk as he begins confiding in her. Shane tells Mitchie that his label has been forcing him to sing their songs and has robbed him of his identity as a singer. He trusts Mitchie because she knows what it is like to deal with posers, since her mother is president of HotTunes.

After a food fight erupts between Tess and Caitlyn, Caitlyn is given the punishment of working in the kitchen for the duration of Camp Rock. She soon discovers the truth about Mitche but she decides to accept Mitchie and not reveal her secret. However, Tess decides to do the opposite when she is overcome with jealousy after seeing Shane bonding with Mitchie. Tess forces Mitchie to reveal her secret to the campers and to Shane, who tears her down by telling her she is nothing more than a poser. Tess initiates further revenge on Mitchie by framing Mitchie and Caitlyn for the theft of her expensive bracelet. Mitchie and Caitlyn are banned from participating at the camp's talent show . . .

The Criticism

First, the movie greatly lacked character detail because the characters went through very few changes throughout the movie. For instance, Tess Tyler is rejected by her busy mother. When her mother arrives at the camp talent show but takes a phone call during Tess' performance, Tess exits the stage in tears. Backstage, she suddenly has a change of heart and apologizes to those she has hurt. Someone cannot become a better person in one single minute so this storyline seemed impossible. Another impossible plotline was when Tess' friend Peggy learns to be independent while performing a song. I felt that the producers ignored the character development and struggled to quickly tie up loose ends at the end.

Second, the artistic aspects of the movie were extremely fake and obvious. This is very disappointing considering that the entire movie was an artistic genre. The actors were terrible at lip synching their lines, especially Demi Lovato whose lips did not move to the lyrics. In addition the actors seemed incapable of actually playing their instruments because the fact that they were pretending, was too obvious to the audience. Brushing your hand over guitar strings does not prove that you can strum a guitar. Also, the choreography was not as well done as High School Musical. Dancing on tables and basic hip hop moves are nothing to be wowed about.

Third, there were very few memorable and catchy songs. None of the songs seemed like they'd become hits. The songs were all the same bubble gum tripe you hear from mainstream artists. Only two of the songs out of twelve were catchy enough to remember, one of which was "This is Me," the only song with substance and meaningful lyrics. Another minor complaint I have is that the title of the movie is "Camp Rock" however there were no ROCK songs.

Fourthly, the acting was mediocre. I expected a lot more out of the Jonas brothers but I was disappointed to see what their talents do not go beyond singing. Joe Jonas showed more promise than his brothers, although he did get more screen time than them. Kevin Jonas was terrible as the not-so-intelligent character, and was outshined by his female counterpart played by Anna Maria Perez de Tagle. It is extremely annoying to see Disney movies have characters that seem as if they suffer from retardation. I understand that Disney wants to have relatable characters but no one is this stupid in real life. The rest of the cast were either poor or MEDIOCRE. Demi Lovato and Meaghan Jette Martin struggled to stay in character throughout the movie.

So, what did I like about the movie? The songs were sung well by the actors, though most of the vocals were not in tact. The vocals sounded digitized where they were supposed to be more like acopelas. But Demi Lovato's vocals were excellent and stood out from the rest. Furthermore, the supporting characters outshined the main cast! Daniel Fathers and Julie Brown were great as the energetic camp counselors. Julie Brown was also one of the writers for Camp Rock, which brings me to my next issue -- the writing. The script was pretty well done but it missing crucial elements such as the character development and humor. The jokes were repetitive and unfunny, such as Jason's constant whining about Shane making him a birdhouse. To give you a taste of the bland jokes from the movie, here is a quote:

Mitchie: You don't know her? She's cooked for everybody from Jessica and Nick (pre breakup) to Pharrell.
Ella: So . . . Jessica ate these eggs??!

Comparing Plots

My last complaint is that the plot seemed extremely familiar to me. Wait! That's because I have seen a very similar plot in two popular movies: High School Musical (1&2 - 2006 & 2007) and A Cinderella Story (2004).

Similarities between High School Musical 1&2 and Camp Rock:

-Tess was an obvious copy of Sharpay Evans. She even repeated a line from High School Musical 2: "This isn't amateur night."
-Mitchie is the "Gabriella" in this movie. She isn't considered popular and only has one friend.
-Shane Gray represented Troy Bolton, the popular boy that all the girls like.
-Caitlyn served as the Taylor and the Connect 3 were the "Chad" to Shane.
-The two lead characters (Mitchie & Shane) do not kiss.
-Mitchie had a falling out with Shane, as Gabriella did with Troy.
-Finale performance at the end of each film.

Similarities between A Cinderella Story and Camp Rock:

-Shane is searching for a girl with a beautiful voice, as Chad Michael Murray's character Austin was looking for the mysterious Cinderella.
-Shane talked to his mystery girl, Mitchie, without even realizing who she was. Austin spoke to Sam (Hilary Duff), without recognizing that she was Cinderella.
-Mitchie has one friend, Caitlyn. Sam only had one friend as well.
-Songs by the main actors were used in this film as well as in A Cinderella Story.
-Shane confides in Mitchie as Austin did the same with Sam.
-Mitchie is publicly humiliated by Tess, as Sam was publicly humiliated by the popular girl.

Good effort Disney, but mediocre execution. Has Disney created another franchise similar to the extremely popular High School Musical movies? Only time will tell.



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