What with Robert Putnam and Bowling Alone, I am not about to snicker at any social activity that brings together like-minded individuals in an imaginative pursuit that tears them away from iPod, Xbox, TV, and PC. Even if that means dressing up in funny costumes and face paint and hurling little packets of pixie dust (actually biodegradable birdseed) at one another in the state parks of Oregon and Washington. Several Seattle residents participate in these elaborate role-playing games, and documentary director Cullen Hoback clearly has their trust. The camera never sneers at these subjects—some still living with their mothers—and their impulses aren't so unfamiliar to other breeds of weekend warriors. "I need to be somebody else," says one participant. Seen at SIFF '07, Monster Camp lacks context and does little to explain the broader phenomenon of fantasy role-playing. Still, it looks fun to pound on a cowering green demon with a Wiffle bat.
Runs at Grand Illusion, Fri., Aug. 8–Thurs., Aug. 14. Not rated. 81 minutes.