What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that, like High School Musical before it, this is a cute, upbeat musical comedy that tweens will be dying to see (thanks in no small part to a) Disney's massive marketing campaign and b) the fact that all three Jonas Brothers are in it). More jaded older kids may not entirely buy the movie's squeaky-clean version of teen life, but younger kids will love it -- and they'll get plenty of positive messages about believing in yourself and being who you are in between the catchy songs. Some characters do things that are clearly wrong -- lying, treating other people poorly, acting selfishly -- but they all learn their lesson in the end. Expect some flirting and a couple of near kisses (again, just like HSM).
What's the story?
School's almost out, and the only thing that music-loving teen Mitchie Torres (Demi Lovato) wants to do for the summer is hone her talents at Camp Rock. But in order to afford the fees, her caterer mom (Maria Canals-Barrera) will have to be the camp chef. That doesn't bother down-to-earth Mitchie until she meets rich, popular Tess Tyler (Meaghan Jette Martin); all of a sudden, Mitchie is lying about her whole life in order to impress her snobby new "friend." Meanwhile, bad boy musician Shane Gray (Joe Jonas) has been shipped off to camp to spiff up his image by doing some time as a mentor/counselor. Sparks fly between him and Mitchie, but even their sweet duet gets drowned out when Tess pulls the rug out from under Mitchie's feet. Will everything work out in time for Final Jam?
Is it any good?
CAMP ROCK is cute, fun, and full of positive messages about being true to yourself. Sure, the story's predictable and the characters aren't exactly what you'd call deep (though Lovato and Martin both turn in fine, earnest performances), but that won't matter to the legions of tweens who only had to hear the words "Jonas Brothers" to come down with a case of Camp Rock fever. Though middle brother Joe has the biggest role, siblings Kevin and Nick also show up (mostly to provide comic relief) as Shane's fellow bandmates in fictional pop group Connect 3. Naturally, the guys perform a song together ("Play My Music") in a scene that's sure to entertain fans.
"Naturally" may actually be the key word when it comes to explaining what sets Camp Rock apart from fellow made-for-TV hits High School Musical and High School Musical 2. Although the movies have a lot in common -- not the least of which is a sanitized, remarkably unnatural take on teen life -- in Camp Rock, all of the musical numbers (and there are plenty, from Lovato's sincere "This Is Me" to the rousing "We Rock" finale) are organic to the situation. Here, the characters sing and dance because they're performers in training; no one randomly breaks into song in the middle of class or work to move the story along. It's a relatively fine distinction for a tween-targeted Disney movie, but it may be enough of a selling point for kids who aren't normally into musicals to make a difference.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about why kids want to see this movie -- is it because of the Jonas Brothers? Because of ads they've seen on the Disney Channel? Or just because it sounds like a good movie?
What does Mitchie learn by the time the credits roll? Do you think she handles her problems in a realistic way?
Do the teens in this movie seem like real people? Why or why not?