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Magic Camp – Movie Review

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Magic Camp – Movie Review

Rating: B- (Okay)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Walt Disney Studios

The summer camp movie is a familiar subgenre in the family film arena, often involving a bunch of misfits who get together to try and have the best time of their young lives. Magic Camp definitely falls into this category and does provides a few amusing moments along the way. The filmmakers and actors do appear to be having fun with portraying the various illusions performed by the camp counselors and attendees. It’s not a film that rewrites the rulebook, but it does have its heart in the right place, even if the script at times feels like it was written 25 years ago. Magic Camp makes for almost a surprising double feature with another Disney camping comedy Heavyweights.

The movie initially feels like a vehicle for Adam DeVine and while he is the lead actor, Magic Camp smartly allows time for his younger co-stars to shine. DeVine’s comedic shtick often involves making silly faces, but he tones that down here and does attempt to show his character’s softer side. He helps make Andy’s development believable. The other central protagonist is Nathaniel McIntyre’s Theo and it’s through him that the movie touches on some tough themes. Those portions are quite effective and show the movie has more on its mind than just getting laughs.

The comedy is a bit on the hit-or-miss side, but there thankfully aren’t any real groaners. There are a few decent one-liners and funny sight gags as well as an amusing running joke involving a young girl’s obsession with rabbits. One just wishes the movie hit the comedy bull’s eye a bit more often. The plot could be called routine, but there is clearly a reason screenwriters keep returning to the Mighty Ducks well with these family comedies. The underdog group of children trained by Andy do end up a likeable bunch and the film’s message of everyone having an undiscovered talent comes through.

An element taken from the ‘90s screenwriting handbook that is tiring to see in Magic Camp is the bully who immediately takes a disliking to someone he hasn’t seen before. I thought this character archetype had been retired years ago, but Magic Camp unfortunately still finds a place for it. Everything from the obnoxious behaviour carried out in the open to the unnecessary prank is depicted here. The desire to win the end-of-summer competition is already a decent enough conflict. There are also a few scenes that could have been cut out, if only to tighten the pacing a little.

Magic Camp has been sitting in the Disney Vault for a few years, but it really didn’t deserve that fate. It’s a largely inoffensive and occasionally amusing film that does have some fun with its premise and isn’t afraid of getting dramatic at points. It also represents a refreshing role for Adam DeVine and one can understand his growing connection with these camp-going youngsters. Magic Camp may not be the most memorable or hilarious comedy out there, but it’s enough of a distraction for anyone who decides to pull it up on Disney Plus for a weekend viewing.

Stefan Ellison

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