Summer Camp besties


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Now that Memorial Day is over, it’s time for the summer movies to hit theaters or streaming. I had a chance to preview Summer Camp, which opens May 31. Targeted to a mature audience, our demographic for sure, it features some big name baby boomer actresses and actors including  Diane Keaton, Kathy Bates, Alfre Woodard, Dennis Haysbert, Eugene Levy, and Beverly D’ Angelo.

While the cast is superb and there are a few good lines and themes, it’s a “campy” movie with over-the-top comedy. If you went to summer camp as a kid or teen you may relate more. I watched the entire flick wanting better quality scripting for this talented cast.

Summer Camp

Forever friends after 50 years

Summer Camp tells the story of Nora (Keaton), Ginny (Bates), and Mary (Woodard), who have been BFFs since being besties at summer camp. As the years have passed, they’ve seen each other less, so when the chance to reunite for a summer camp 50th reunion arises, they all attend, some more excited than others.

We learn that Ginny remained single and became a wealthy self-help bestselling author; Mary is a nurse who married young; and Nora is a widow who lives a solitary existence totally consumed with her scientific work as a CEO. Each of their lives might not be where they’d imagined, but the gathering reminds the threesome why friendship is so important at this age.

Summer Camp besties

Diane Keaton, Kathy Bates, and Alfre Woodard play camp besties Nora, Ginny and Mary

Pretty girls, crushes and aging

There’s a look-back at the “pretty girls” who were, well pretty perfect teens, or so they thought. Jane (played by Beverly D’Angelo) and Judy (who I didn’t recognize the actress) are the older beauties. Upon reuniting now in their mid-60s, Nora asks, “How are they still so pretty?” Ginny replies, “Pilates and plastic!”

There’s the teenage crushes: Stevie D’ (played by Eugene Levy) who when asked about his current status by Nora says he is “gainfully unemployed or just retired; and Tommy (played by Dennis Haysbert), Mary’s former hottie.

Themes of getting older are peppered throughout the story lines from arm Spanx and face tapes to vibrators and vulnerablity.  “Let your shit hang out. It’s more important being together than having your shit together,” says Ginny as she encourages campers to “take their eyes off their ego” and reclaim their childhood nonchalance.

Summer Camp crushes

BFFs reunite with camp crushes Tommy and Stevie D’ played by Dennis Haysbert (l) and Eugene Levy (r)

It’s never too late

I wonder if writer and director Castille Landon, who is in her 30s, consulted any baby boomers when she wrote the screenplay for Summer Camp. What did this millennial have to say about the movie:

Summer Camp is a fun comedy about lifelong friendship and the joys of rediscovering oneself through play — an endeavor we too often leave behind as we enter our adult years. But under the sun-shiny surface, the film seeks to press upon larger issues we face, especially as we age, including social isolation and the ongoing loneliness epidemic.

Each of our three main characters is in the midst of her own later-life crisis: Nora is widowed and turns to work to fill the inner void; perennially single Ginny hides her unhappiness beneath a veneer of confidence, seeking fame and validation from her devout Self Help fans; and Mary is in a loveless marriage — surrounded by family and coworkers, but her soul remains unfulfilled.

While these issues are revealed to the audience through jokes and hijinks, there exists a relatable pain and a deep-seated need beneath the comedic overtones. It is only through reuniting with their childhood friends that each woman is able to reunite with her own inner child, to see what it is that she desires and how best to achieve happiness.

Ultimately, the film seeks to impart upon its audience that it’s never too late to make positive changes, and that nothing is more important than fostering a sense of community and connection with others.”

BFFS from Summer Camp movie

Friendship and aging are some of the themes examined in this new comedy about three camp BFFs

Thumbs not totally up

What’s my rating for Summer Camp? I wanted to give it a thumbs up but my tendency is in the 70 percentile with an angle in the middle. I was yearning for more of a Grace and Frankie comedy and it just didn’t hit the mark.

Meantime what I would give a thumbs up to so far is the new novel Long Island by Colm Tóibín, the sequel to Brooklyn. Now that’s a movie I could watch over and over again. So far the book is an easy read. Can’t wait to see how it ends.

What are you looking forward to watching or reading this summer? Leave a comment and LMK. I always like suggestions.

Judi