Picks and Pans Review: Camp Nowhere

updated 09/12/1994 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/12/1994 01:00AM

Christopher Lloyd, Jonathan Jackson

It just wouldn't be a camp movie without a bully, a nerdy kid who ends up a hero, and a wacky counselor. This genial if camp-mattress-thin offering has the bully (Andrew Keegan), the nerd (Jackson) and the kooky counselor (Lloyd). What it doesn't quite have is a camp.

Summer, the season of Jackson's and his friends' discontent, is fast approaching, and their parents, as usual, are planning to pack them off to specialty camps: computer (Camp Micro Chippewa), weight-watcher, military and theater. In desperation, Jackson enlists the aid of Lloyd, a former high school drama teacher, who in a very funny sequence passes himself off to gullible parents as the owner of four different phony theme camps. The teens—with Lloyd as front man—then rent some dilapidated cabins by a lackluster lake and settle in for two months of junk food and high jinks. But paradise is postponed when some parents decide they want to visit.

Camp Nowhere has a number of winning moments, but there is sitcom predictability to a good bit of the action—along with the customary pat portrayal of parents as self-absorbed dunderheads. And the movie sends some very unfortunate messages: that an adolescent girl with a perfectly fine figure, for instance, is an appropriate candidate for diet camp. Jackson, who may be on his way to becoming the next (pre-career dip) Michael J. Fox, plays nicely off Lloyd, who once again portrays a ramshackle misfit with a skewed life view: He envisions The Silence of the Lambs as a musical. (PG)

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