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Theater Camp

Theater Camp -

This endearing and very funny comedy is not far off from being the Waiting for Guffman of this era. The titular camp, known as AdironACTS, is a hair's breadth away from shutting down. To make matters worse, founder Joan (Sedaris) slipped into a coma. Her son Troy (Tatro), despite not "getting it" and being the kind of guy the average camper tries to avoid, is enthusiastic about keeping the lights on albeit in a particularly misguided way. Meanwhile, best friends, former campers and now teachers Amos (Platt) and Rebecca-Diane (Gordon) stage a musical based on Joan's life, which is beset by the latter having one foot out the door. All the while, a representative from the wealthy camp across the river is champing at the bit to take it over.

As the final song of the camp's project lovingly puts it, it's more of a home to the campers than their real homes. Besides being enthusiastic about something that most people only think of as something fun to do while traveling in New York, most of the staff and campers are LBGTQ. I especially like how their suspicious treatment of the seemingly only straight camper reiterates this, which is capped by a hilarious moment of acceptance from his gay parents. The character of Troy is all the more genius while considering this and not just because Tatro is so funny in the part. Presumably like anyone who goes into this movie cold, he's a guy who doesn't get why theater is so important to everyone else but wants to. The drama (no pun intended) of whether the camp will stay open always keeps things interesting, whether for how it strains Amos and Rebecca-Diane's friendship, or the increasingly offbeat ideas Troy comes up with to make money. They range from making campers work at a Rotary Club event to a possible investment from shady dudebro influencers. The drama and the kids' hard work in spite of it culminates in a performance that brings the laughs, tears and is bound to make you want to see it in its entirety. It results in a comedy that expertly stresses the importance of having a place to belong and of making such places last. By the same token, it reminds us that it's just as important to take a chance on outsiders to such places.