Happy Campers (2001) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

The premise is not bad. The Naziesque adult manager of a summer camp is struck by lightning, and the camp continues without him. What makes this film different from any number of earlier ones with the same essential premise? In a nutshell, the film tries to show what really would happen in such a case, and does not provide a romanticized, Hollywoodized, MPAA-ized, adult-friendly view of childhood. The counselors all pair off, or try to, and have sex. The 12 year olds spend all of their time either talking about sex or trying to watch the counselors having it. Kids read Hustler magazine, and discuss it graphically, for example.


There is extensive toplessness from James King

In fact, it isn't a bad movie for its ilk. Oh, sure, 75% of it is the recycled clichés and stock characters from every camp movie ever made, but the other 25% is so offbeat and daring that the film provides some entertainment from time to time. It provides a wry narration which swings from the male to the female point of view, and from the old teen to the young teen point of view. It plays out like a horny episode of Pete and Pete, as guest directed by Adrian Lyne.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Full-screen format, as well as a widescreen anamorphic

  • no features

But here's the problem - who wants to see this? Who wants to hear 12 year old boys and girls talk about Hustler centerfolds, and expose their sexual ignorance? Who wants to see the college freshman counselors taking vast quantities of drugs and having sex, not in a farcical context, but just acting like real kids? I think the obvious answer is - kids under 18 would love to see this. As I write this, it is rated 10.0 out of 10 by kids under 18. Unfortunately for the filmmakers, nobody under 18 would be allowed to see the film. It is rated R for "nonstop crude sexual content involving young minors, and for language and drug use". You think many parents will read those words and tell their kids to "go ahead"?

As a result, it went straight-to-vid despite a fairly high profile cast and a noted screenwriter (Daniel Waters, who wrote "Heathers").

The Critics Vote

  • no major reviews online

The People Vote ...

  • with their dollars: no theatrical release
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C. It is neither very good nor very bad. (Tuna: The film would probably be of interest to young adolescents, and might deliver a few useful revelations for that audience, but no American kid will ever get to see it with an R rating. C-.)

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