Saturday, April 25, 2009

Top Ten Cinematic/Televistic Summer Camps by Dave

*Posted June 27, 2008*

Oh, and this list isn’t just best camps, the quality of the movie/tv show factors in too, so ease up. Also, there are two reasons for me doing this list. One, it’s summer if you didn’t notice, and summer camps in the movies and on television is a vital staple for entertainment. Two, the reason I haven’t been writing anything for this dumb website is because I was on vacation. Something the webmaster here needs to consider doing. Everyone knows that vacation is implied at the end of Summer, which is why I’ve been taking extra long ones every summer. Last week, I went camping and had a blast. That made me do this list, so here’s how it broke down.

10. Camp Nowhere (Camp Nowhere)

You may or may not remember this one. What is Camp Nowhere? Is it a made-up camp designed to be parent-free and therefore fun-abundant (or afundant). Or is it a 90’s Christoper Lloyd vehicle filled with wholesome summer fun and mildly outrageous pranks and stunts? As you can tell, it’s both of them. The movie was good enough I guess, though I haven’t seen it in many years and don’t know how good it measures up when you aren’t a kid anymore. Still, at the very least it’s a couple of hot girls and annoying guys at summer camp. And come on, when you get to the tenth summer camp movie, you know you’re reaching.

9. Camp Crystal Lake (Friday the 13th)

Honestly, not that great a movie. While Kevin Bacon’s gruesome end was funny, the best part about Camp Crystal Lake is not on film but on an 8-bit piece of plastic. Yes, the endless overworld to the fun and/or scary Nintendo game was the REAL gem here. Zombies (?!) pop up out of the dirt as you walk while birds sometimes dive down to gauge eyeballs. The forests are popular with many crazy dog/wolf half breeds and the caves are crawling with bats. Still, you have the shape up and rescue the little campers before big bad Jason guts em all. Yes, I’ve beaten the game, and Yes, the ending blows.

Is this image just an image to you? Or does it drive you insane with thoughts of chasing down Jason before he kills again. If it’s not the latter, you had a weird childhood.

8. Camp North Star (Meatballs)

Meatballs is one of those 80’s Canadian comedies about a second rate summer camp that is made up of assorted losers, geeks and such. The movie concludes with an Olympic Games against the rival camp that is a state-of-the-art facility made up of rich and privileged kids. The movie brings out all the classic cliches, sex jokes and David vs. Goliath situations. The movie gets away with this due to its charm. The characters are all likeable and seem like real kids. This was Bill Murray's first movie and he shines in the film. He plays Tripper the head counselor at the camp and the movie's opening scene, which has him addressing the camp counselors over the P.A. system, is the usual Murray dominance. He more or less carries the movie and his rant at the end of the film has become semi-famous. Meatballs isn't the finest moment of Murray's career, but it definitely shows he had the tools to be a major comedic film star.

7. Kamp Kikakee (Ernest Goes To Camp)

The movie that first introduced Ernest P. Worrell to the masses, it centers around a Camp handyman promoted to counselor when a group of “tough” kids from the nearby “tough kids jail” come to the Kamp. I first saw this back when I was kid, and I do remember the repeat viewings during those years. When I finally came back to it, not having watched Ernest Goes to Camp for many years, I was surprised by how much I still enjoyed its low down charm despite some iffy leaps in logic. The film's message, presumably, is this: if you get your ass handed to you by a muscle-bound foreman with a full beard, immediately rally your friends, stockpile a collection of makeshift weapons and assault your arch-enemy and his innocent companions when they least expect it. Solving problems peacefully isn't something Ernest is too worried about. The gags are funny and you can feel how old this movie is. Also, Counselor Stennis shows you his brand of teaching for no added charge. Watch the sequels with caution, though. The series peaks with Scared Stupid, but many other sequels fall way short.

6. Camp Chippewa (Addams Family Values)

Having established the unique world of the Addams' in the first movie, the writers and producers go for more sight gags and cheap laughs in the sequel--not that there's anything wrong with that. After all, it's what the TV series did. Especially when the cheap laughs are so good and plentiful. Morticia reading "The Cat in the Hat" to her baby is a great moment that comes to mind. Wednesday (who sometimes goes by her nickname Humpday) forced to smile at summer camp is another, so on, etc. The late great Raul Julia is the highlight again, same as the first. The plot wasn’t perfect, but the summer camp bits are the best parts. If you enjoy spotting stars in bit roles they did before they were famous, watch for Cynthia Nixon (Baby’s Day Out) as the hippie-chick nanny, Peter MacNichol (Ghostbusters II) as the cheery camp counselor, Frances McDormand (Raising Arizona, Burn After Reading) as the cheery camp counselette, and Nathan Lane (The Birdcage) as the indifferent cop. Pugsley and Wednesday are both shipped off to some ultra-cheery summer camp, complete with end-of-summer plays, a crazy private house with girly stuff that turns kids insane, and zany antics. Plus, Wednesday = hot.

5. Camp Firewood (Wet Hot American Summer)

Alright, so it’s a cult movie, meaning it got shit reviews from the critics but fans started going nuts over it when it came out on DVD and made its rounds on Comedy Central. Yea, I’ve seen it and it’s pretty good. Some strange parts. Some dumb parts. But a lot of it is original and funny. If you’re the type who won’t see this movie just because it has a cult following, then buckle down and get over yourself. It’s worth a look.

4. Camp Campingston Falls (Home Movies)

Though many people haven’t seen this, some of the people who read this site regularly definitely do because I make them watch it sometimes. The show is a cartoon that used to be on Adult Swim regularly for 4 seasons. The camp is a drama camp for kids, filled with exercises on acting/writing/directing. The counselors, way snooty and condescending, really have it in for the three main characters, whose only cling to sanity is their own company and 3 counselors who look after them. McGuirk’s involvement later on elevates this to top 5 material, so please watch the videos below if Dan posted the videos okay. If he screwed up (more likely) then find the episode yourself on the internet. Google something like TV Links and watch it. You won’t regret it.

*Editors Note* No videos were given to me to post, so go find them yourself, lazy...

3. Camp Hope (Heavyweights)

The guys behind Mighty Ducks tried to strike gold twice, and so came Heavyweights, a story of a big kid at a loving fat camp. But then that loving fat camp gets turned over to a new owner, a ruthless fitness nut (Ben Stiller), and things go Nazi era France on the fatties. German counselors enforce strict diets and long marches until the kids rebel against their leaders. This is a good movie to eat with a bag of chips resting on your belly. It never feels better. So, after a brief period of sucky dictatorship, the camp restores its glory by re-inflating their massive bouncy thing in the lake for kids to catapult off of and beating their rival MVP oriented camp. Revenge of the Herd, indeed.

2. Kamp Krusty (The Simpsons)

It may have been underfinanced and run by bullies, but Kamp Krusty had some high points too. For one, its camping done the Simpsons way, and this was during a time when all of the episodes were awesome (now most suck). Also, its run by a local celebrity, so who cares if it’s a little decrepit. Finally, because it was so awful for little kids, everyone got to go south of the border with Krusty for a little bit of wild Mexico fun.

1. Camp Anawanna (Salute Your Shorts)

I’m sure anyone who grew up with cable TV saw this coming. We all know about this Nickelodeon classic. We remember the great episodes (water balloon war is a highlight) and also every great character. You could go on down the list and most of the people would awesome. Granted, there are a few stinkers (Telly). In the many episodes at Camp Anawanna, we watched all the characters not really develop so much but placed in different situations, and yet that was good enough for me. While we would have liked to spend seasons at other camps, only Salute Your Shorts delivered, and that’s why its top of the heap.

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