The kids apparently love their musicals, as the success of Disney's "High School Musical" series and "Hannah Montana" has spawned efforts like "Camp Rock", the studio's latest high-profile Disney channel movie. This time around, the Jonas Brothers (who've toured with "Montana" star Cyrus and have become breakout stars of their own) are given the spotlight, along with appealing newcomer Demi Lovato.
Levato stars as Mitchie Torres, a girl who works every day at her dream of being a musician. She wants nothing more than to go to the ultra-exclusive Camp Rock, a Summer camp for wealthy kids who share her dreams. While her hopes of attending the camp appear dim, she catches a break when her mom gets a job as the camp cook and - as a result - she gets into the camp with discounted tuition.
Meanwhile, snotty pop singer Shane Grey (Joe Jonas) is being dropped off at the camp by bandmates Jason (Kevin Jonas) and Nate (Nick Jonas) because everyone involved thinks it'll be a good PR move. However, it's news to Shane that he'll have to do a recording with the winner of the camp's Final Jam at the end of the Summer - which he's informed about as the limo's about to drive off.
"Camp Rock" often ventures into cliches, but at least the enterprise has enough energy and spirit to manage to smooth out some of the bumps. It's no surprise that Mitchie will try to hide the fact that she works in the kitchen. It's no surprise that she has to choose between being one of the popular crowd - lead by Tess Tyler (Meaghan Jette Martin) - and trying to shine on her own terms. Will she win over the hearts and minds of the other campers at Final Jam? You get the point - the film is comfort food, not veering away from the expected. However, the question must be asked: did it really require four screenwriters to pull a basic plot like this together?
Still, the performances do pick up some of the slack. While Levato doesn't offer a real breakout performance, she's winning and likable enough in the role to get the audience to root for her. The Jonas Brothers all offer decent efforts in their first leading role, but the movie really doesn't require them to stretch their abilities much. The film's musical numbers don't reach the leve of "High School Musical"'s tunes, but remain catchy enough and are performed admirably well. Overall, I'm certainly not in "Camp Rock"'s target audience, but as tween fare goes, it's decent fluff. While the movie may have a vanilla plot, but Lovato's charming performance does carry the movie reasonably well.
VIDEO: "Camp Rock" is presented by Disney in 1.33:1 full-frame (the Blu-Ray offers the film in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio.) Picture quality was about broadcast quality, with acceptable sharpness and detail. While the picture maintained respectable clarity and defintion during many scenes, some moments could look noticably softer.
Some slight edge enhancement was spotted in a few scenes and a couple of minor specks on the print were noticed, but the film otherwise looked clean and clear. Colors remained bright and well-saturated, with no smearing. Flesh tones looked accurate, while black level remained satisfactory.
SOUND: The film's Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack largely comes from the front speakers, with the surrounds only providing light reinforcement of the music on occasion. Audio quality is perfectly average, with a bassy score and clear dialogue.
EXTRAS: "How to Be a Rock Star" featurette, "Jonas Brothers: Real-life Rock Stars" featurette, "Introducing Demi Lovato" featurette, "From Rehearsal to Final Jam", music videos, gallery, karoke feature.
Final Thoughts: Overall, I'm certainly not in "Camp Rock"'s target audience, but as tween fare goes, it's decent fluff. The DVD offers decent video quality (unfortunately, no anamorphic widescreen presentation) and fine audio quality, along with a handful of extras. Recommended for fans.
The Film B-