Summercamp!: Cute Kids Make for So-So Documentary

For fans of cute-kid docs like Spellbound and Mad Hot Ballroom, Summercamp!, which follows a group of Wisconsin nature-campers around for three weeks, sounds like the perfect summer movie. Unfortunately, as anyone who's ever spent an interminable afternoon with a 7-year-old who wants to show off her Beanie Baby collection knows, kids are sort of...boring. Sure they say the darndest things, but they're also tremendously entertained by peeling blades of grass and giving each other wedgies. The campers here are a pretty uniform group (read: white), and are, as they should be, more interested in playing than playing to the cameras. Co-directors Brad Beesley and Sarah Price make the mistake of jumping so rapidly from cabin to cabin that we have little opportunity to get to know the most interesting kids, including a socially immature outcast and a chickadee-obsessed girl mourning her dead father. The counselors, meanwhile, seem almost creepily clueless—"It's just sand," one of them tells a distraught boy after his castle falls apart. Although it's hard to be too churlish about such a good-hearted film, Summercamp! manages to make watching kids have fun surprisingly tedious.

 
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