‘Theater Camp’ Review – Sundance 2023

Theater Camp: Directed by Molly Gordon, Nick Lieberman

SYNOPSIS: When the founder of a rundown theater camp in upstate New York falls into a coma right before the summer session, the eccentric staff must band with her bro-y son to keep the camp afloat.

This was probably my second most anticipated film of Sundance 2023. The cast instantly got me on board, but the concept is what really had me intrigued. As someone who grew up taking part in choir and other forms of performing arts, I really wanted to see how far down the rabbit hole they would go and I was fully invested from the very start. It also helps that I am a big fan of Molly Gordon and her work and was very excited to see what she would bring behind the camera in her feature length directorial debut. It is safe to say that I was EXCITED.

I LOVE this film. As someone who grew up taking part in performing arts, I feel so seen and I know thousands of people will feel the same way. The writing here is just so picture perfect overall. I have some issues with the corporate arc, but the bare bones camp stuff is awesome. Making it a mockumentary is the best decision they could have made and taking that vision and melding it with great direction makes this a blast of a film. For a directorial debut, Molly Gordan and Nick Lieberman absolutely knocked this out of the park. 

The best thing about this project is the performances. Ben Platt and Molly Gordon are a revelation in this, having incredible chemistry and bringing some of the funniest performances of the year to the table. The supporting cast shines and adds really nice depth to the camp staff and all of the kids are just perfect. Mega props to all of the awesome kids in this film that delivers solid outings. Jimmy Tatro is also incredible with this type of casting and character. Some people may cringe, but I loved it. Great castings and solid outings.

FINAL: Theater Camp is a blast of a film and one of my favorites of the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. The writing is almost spotless. Making this a mockumentary is genius and plays to the strengths of our directors who give incredibly solid directorial debuts. I love Ben Platt and Molly Gordan in this and they highlight a solid cast as a whole. If you take part in the performing arts, you will feel seen with the film and have a fantastic time. I would highly recommend this film for everyone because everyone will find something to like about this.   

Point Breakdown:

15 for Writing: 13

15 for Performances: 14

10 for Entertainment: 10

10 for Direction: 8

10 for Emotions: 8

5 for Cinematography: 4

5 for Score: 4

5 for Pacing: 4

15 for Technical: 11

5 for Rewatchability: 5

5 for Automatic: 5

Theater Camp: 86/100

Jack Lautaret is a Banana Meter approved film critic, Host of the Jack Lautaret YouTube Channel and writer for Music City Drive-In. He is a member of the Online Film and Television Association. Twitter: @JackLautaret


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