“Theater Camp” plays at the M.V. Film Center on Thursday, August 8, and again on Friday, August 9. AdirondACTS is the name of the summer camp for kids who love to act. The directors of this mockumentary that won Sundance’s Special Jury Award, and was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize, are Molly Gordon and Nick Lieberman.
The trouble with this rundown camp in upstate Warwick, N.Y., is that it’s threatened by foreclosure. Tony awardwinner Jimmy Tatro plays Troy, or En-Troy-preneur, whose mother Joan (Amy Sedaris) turns up in a coma from a “Bye Bye Birdie” accident. Troy takes over as the clueless head of the camp, but the kids, of course, see right through him. The two bungling counselors that support Troy are acting coach Amos (Ben Platt) and music teacher Rebecca-Diane (Molly Gordon), and the film is mostly about the adults rather than the kids. Business-suited agent Minari (Alan Kim) is constantly on the phone. Stage manager Glenn (Noah Galvin) breaks into a loony dance, complete with wandering spotlights.
Amos lights into Troy, telling him this is a camp for kids who are outsiders, then bullies him the way he’s just complained to Troy about. Ayo Edebiri, a newcomer counselor, provides a ridiculous dance stage combat lesson that she doesn’t have a clue about. Rebecca-Diane and Amos didn’t get a callback from the celebrated Juilliard School, which suggests the somewhat lacking level of their talents. A nearby camp that’s a little more successful threatens to take over AdirondACTS. Another awful joke is the songs the camp comes up with.
At one point in this mockumentary, costume counselor Gigi (Owen Thiele) asks one of the students why he’s allergic to polyester. Another silly gem is the kid who asks, “Did Julianne Moore really have dementia?” That’s the kind of humor in this film, and the counselors who attended the camp as kids remember every goofy thing that happened to them then. A few of the talented camp kids are Balee Bonick (Makenzie Thomas), Luke Islam (Christopher L), Alan Kim (Alan Park), Vivienne Sachs (Lainy Fischer), and the unforgettable Alexander Bello (Sebastian Campbell). They and the rest of the troop practice furiously for a grand finale, a tribute to the camp’s comatose founder, “Joan Still.”
“Theater Camp” is reminiscent of the much better but also ensemble cast in “Waiting for Guffman.” It’s still a funny enough mockumentary for anyone who’s spent a summer in camp to find enjoyable.
Information and tickets for “Theater Camp” are available at mvfilmsociety.com,