Happy Campers [2001]

Happy Campers vacillates from being a ridiculous parody of summer-camp life to being a genuine examination of adolescence. Camp counselors Brad Renfro (Apt Pupil, The Client) and Dominique Swain (Face/Off, Lolita) have very different approaches (she's super-perky, he's a moody rebel), but find themselves irresistibly attracted to each other as the camp falls into chaos over the course of the summer. What keeps this basic plot from being completely cheesy is a basic honesty about youth--Happy Campers doesn't shy away from the cruelty, sexual frustration, and general awkwardness of being a teen. Despite its inconsistencies of tone, the movie is a more compelling portrait of adolescence than any John Hughes movie, and the attractive, likable cast--also featuring James King (Pearl Harbor) and Emily Bergl (The Rage: Carrie 2)--will keep you engaged. --Bret Fetzer

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