Judge Clark Douglas thinks this is a very campy musical.
Music, teamwork, and spirit are what really matter.
"The friends we've made, the fun we've had, the memories that make me laugh—it's a beautiful thing!"
Facts of the Case
It's another year at Camp Rock, the happy camp for happy campers who love to sing and dance and smile. Boy oh boy, last year was a lot of fun, but this year is going to be even better, right? It seems that way at first, before everyone discovers that a brand-new camp has been started just across the lake: Camp Star. Of course, Camp Star quickly becomes Camp Rock's rival, so the plucky young underdogs at Camp Rock are forced to engage in musical battle against the slick, polished, diabolical kids over at Camp Star. Meanwhile, the beautiful and talented Mitchie (Demi Lovato, Sonny With a Chance) gets a chance to rekindle her romance with the beautiful and talented Shane (Joe Jonas, Jonas), and we get to meet newcomers like Luke (Matthew "Mdot" Finley) and Dana (Chloe Bridges, Freddie). Yay! Two camps! Two types of camp! Singing! Love! More singing!
Man, I hate this stuff. I really do. As both a critic and a fan of film in general, I try to be open to interesting films of any sort. I'm down with gritty thrillers and colorful musicals, searing dramas and frothy comedies, terrifying horror flicks and tender romances. However, there's something about this Disney Channel original programming that causes me to react in violent and unreasonable ways. Maybe it's the agonizingly generic plastic polish applied to every production. Maybe it's the same-ish nature of the of-the-moment stars that explode and burn out in a flash. Maybe it's the forced cheer and the fact that not a single character in these productions feels like a real human being so much as a robot trained to be adorably marketable. All I know is that ten minutes into Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam, I was ready to throw something at the screen.
So, for the sake of maintaining some semblance of fairness towards the target audience of this flick, I arranged a brief interview with the Disney Channel expert around these parts—my pal "Katie" (a requested pseudonym—she's shy).
Clark: So, thanks for taking a few minutes to talk about Camp Rock 2.
Katie: You're welcome.
Clark: First of all, I should admit that I haven't seen the original Camp Rock. What can you tell me about that film?
Katie: Basically, the first one's about this camp Mitchie has been dreaming of going to. She finally gets to go. She wanted to go because Shane was going to be there, and he's like a big rock star. They get to go because her parents are chefs. Somehow, she gets in this big tangled web because she doesn't want to tell people she's the chef's daughter, so she says she's the daughter of a pop star or something. And Shane is like this cocky teenager and everything. He doesn't know who she is, he hears her singing and then by the time he gets in there she's gone. So, he's trying to find her all this time, and he can't find her, so he gets all these girls to sing for him until he finds the right one. The other two Jonas Brothers aren't in it until later. And the blonde girl who goes to Camp Star in this movie was the mean girl in that movie. Oh, and there was some music. That's pretty much it.
Clark: You were telling me earlier that the first one was less of a musical? How do you mean?
Katie: I mean, there was music in it…but you know how in this movie, people are just sitting around talking and then they start singing? In the first one, most of the singing happened naturally—like they were practicing or rehearsing or whatever, but in this one they just randomly break into song a lot more. The first one was just people singing songs; this one is songs trying to tell the story.
Clark: So how do you feel Camp Rock 2 compares to the first film?
Katie: It's a lot more boring. I don't know how I feel; I don't really have feelings about it. It's kind of annoying. I don't like the music in this one aside from the solos and duets.
Clark: So you don't like the big production numbers?
Katie: No. But that's just me.
Clark: How do you feel this compares to the average Disney Channel movie? I know you've seen most of the recent ones.
Katie: Y'know, all Disney movies pretty much feel the same. I don't know how to compare Disney Channel movies; they're all pretty much on the same level. Some of them stand out, I guess. High School Musical was better than the Camp Rock movies. There's obviously a lot of effort put into the production and such, but the story is pretty blah. You have to remember, these movies are made for people who just want to watch these particular actors no matter what they're in.
Clark: Are the Jonas Bros. and Demi Lovato still pretty much the biggest Disney Channel stars at this point?
Katie: Yeah—I would say Selina Gomez is up there, too. Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus is up there, though she's about done with the Disney phase, I think. But yeah, they're pretty much the biggest stars right now.
Clark: Does any of the acting in this film stand out for you?
Clark: So you don't think it's exceptional in any way?
Katie: Nah. It's Disney. Well, I've always found Nick to be the best actor of the Jonas Brothers, to be honest. He's been on Broadway and stuff. So I like him. But he doesn't really have much to do in this.
Clark: Any final thoughts?
Katie: None of these movies are made to win Oscars. They're made to entertain people of a certain age group. So, y'know.
Clark: Do they still appeal to you?
Katie: The Jonas Brothers appeal to me. I still buy all their new stuff. Certain Disney stuff does—I like all the High School Musical movies, I liked that Hannah Montana movie. A lot of people really like Sonny with a Chance; I still watch that—it's funny. Other stuff, no thank you. I'm tired of some of it.
Clark: And Camp Rock 2 ranks among the stuff you're tired of?
Clark: Okay, now for the stuff I actually know a thing or two about. I do know that Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam gets a 1080p/1.78:1 transfer that looks pretty solid on Blu-ray, despite its utterly generic look. Detail is strong, the predictably bright colors pop off the screen and flesh tones are warm and things rarely approach the sort of eyesore territory that often afflicts this sort of production. Black crush is something of an issue, though. The audio is strong, as the playful pop songs come through with strength and are well-mixed. Sound design is fairly minimal, but the dialogue is never anything less than pristine. Basically, the track rocks about as much as one would expect.
Clark: Also, the supplements are pretty thin. You get "Rock-Along Mode" (which enables you sing along to some of the songs), a 6-minute EPK-style featurette entitled "Getting to New Camp Star's Newest Stars," and 17 minutes of music videos featuring various international stars. You also get a DVD copy and a digital copy.
Katie: Yeah, boring.
You heard it from the expert: even by Disney Channel standards, Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam is disappointing.
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Scales of Justice
• Sing-Along Mode
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