Summer Camp at the Movies

Summer camp. Whether you loved it, hated it or skipped it, you can experience it vicariously—minus the bad food, insects and latrines—with these three fun movies.

My favorite is the exuberant Camp, set at a musical theater camp where self-described “freaks” can be themselves and where sports counselors are without an audience. Campers include a talented, overweight singer whose parents have wired her jaw shut; a gay, Latino teen with a crush on the camp dreamboat; a high schooler who protests the lack of African-American characters in musical theater; and a young Anna Kendrick who morphs from a doormat into…well, you’ll just have to see it yourself.

The perfect summer movie to watch with theater geek friends, it scores bonus points for discovering singer Sasha Allen and including the stunningly beautiful Replacements song, "Skyway." (Oh yeah, and there’s a cameo by Stephen Sondheim.)

Yes, Bill Murray received an Academy Award nomination for Lost in Translation, not Meatballs, but I still have a soft spot for Murray in sweet goofball mode in the latter. Over-the-top and kind as head counselor Tripper, his goal is “to make your summer camp experience the best available. In this price range.” What shy camper wouldn’t want Tripper in his corner? ("You must be the short, depressed kid that we ordered.")

My 7-year-old self is demanding that I include the original The Parent Trap, my favorite movie at that age. Hayley Mills charms as twins who meet for the first time at camp and decide to get their divorced parents back together. Great for a G-rated movie night with the kids (and one that won’t make you cringe or put you to sleep before lights out).

So crank up the air conditioner, pitch your tent in front of the TV, and happy camping!

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