Camp Nowhere has been re-released on Blu-ray through Kino Lorber and still holds up after all these years. When a bunch of kids secretly go to a camp for an entire summer with zero adults or responsibility, the fun to be had is limitless in this coming-of-age comedy that stars Christopher Lloyd. Also, this is Jessica Alba's first film... which she has zero lines in. The video and audio presentations get the job done, but have quite a few problems along the way. The only supplement included is a new commentary track with the director, which is actually so much fun that it's a must-listen. For the commentary track alone, along with the film still holding up since 1994, this one comes Recommended.
Your faithful narrator here used to be an actor/model quite some time ago. Well a husky model for JCPenney, but a model none-the-less. On the acting side, there were a few things here and there, but two big movies came very close for me. One will remain unmentioned, but the other was Camp Nowhere, which I went through a few rounds of auditions for a main role. It was quite the experience for sure, but I hold no grudges, because I still love this film in all its silliness.
I imagine the pitch meeting for the movie was something like, "Let's remake Animal House in present day, but with young kids at a summer camp." It's a fun idea for sure, and it brought us kids in 1994 an entertaining glimpse at what might happen if we somehow managed to go to a summer camp for several weeks with no adults and a ton of money. An underlying theme about overbearing "helicopter" parents who are too hard on their children when they deny them a few weeks of fun in between each school year is present as well. It's told in such a way by filmmaker Jonathan Prince, that the adults are never the so-called villains here, but just want the best for their kids in their own eyes.
The film follows a young kid named Morris (Jonathan Jackson) who at the end of the school year is being forced to attend a boring computer programming camp for the duration of summer, where his parents think he needs to be serious all the time. This sets in motion an idea for him and a few of his friends to rent an abandoned campground and have a lot of fun for the summer. They enlist the help of a former theater teacher (Christopher Lloyd) to help with the logistics of everything. When word gets around about this secret summer camp, the entire school wants to be a part of it. This turns the film into a coming-of-age summer camp movie with a ton of kids and no adult supervision. What could go wrong?
There are some fun montage scenes of kids playing out their fantasies with super-soaker water-gun fights, giant stereo systems, and various water sports, but the real soft center of the film involves the kids learning that acting responsibly and more like an adult is the right thing to do. The story itself is simple, but it's a great performance from Christopher Lloyd as a free-spirited adult, and Thomas F. Wilson's rookie cop routine that really make the movie stand out. Sure, it's silly and dumb, but it also has quite a bit of heart and a good underlying message, which is more than we can say for most films of this type these days. Camp Nowhere still holds up as that one summer vacation we always wanted to take before the internet and mobile phones were available.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Camp Nowhere comes with a 25GB Blu-ray Disc from Kino Lorber. There are no inserts or digital downloads of any kind. There is new cover art, but that's about it. The disc is housed in a hard, blue plastic case.
Camp Nowhere comes with a 1080p HD transfer and is presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio. This was released on Blu-ray back in 2011, but now Kino Lorber has re-released it with what looks like a cleaned up, if not new transfer. Previous releases of the film always had problems, image wise, and while this transfer still has some issues, it looks a lot better. Colors are brighter and bold with tons of deep primary colors and bright pastels in the costumes and artwork throughout. There is never a dull moment as much of the film takes place outdoors at camp during the hot, sunny days of summer.
With that said, black levels bleed over and are brighter than normal, especially at the beginning of the film. There are also certain scenes that have a halo like glow that makes the image softer than it should be, but in other scenes, the detail is quite sharp and vivid. The close-ups also reveal some good facial features, such as acne and freckles, and even textures in the wood at the cabins at camp are visible. There is some heavy grain in the darker scenes that fluctuates, though, and there is some heavy banding and video noise throughout. Still, the video presentation looks good most of the time and never hinders the viewing experience.
This release comes with a DTS-HD MA 2.0 soundtrack but could have been a lot better if given a full 5.1 mix. The dialogue is always clear and easy to follow, even with a ton of kids screaming and talking, but the other big sound effects are rather soft and never robust like they should be.
With all of the big sound effects of fireworks, music, the jet planes that fly over, and other summer activities, you'd think there would be a great low-end with bass and surround activity, but that's sadly not the case. It's all rather soft sounding and packs no real punch. On the bright side, the music lights up the soundscape with its early 90s rock songs and it never drowns out any of the other dialogue or effects. Lastly, there are no pops, cracks, or hiss here.
Audio Commentary - This is a brand new commentary track with director Jonathan Prince and Kino Lorber employee Douglas Hosdale. This is a highly entertaining commentary track that is definitely worth the listen. Prince talks about casting the young kids, letting them improv their scenes, working with Christopher Lloyd, and even having a young Jessica Alba in the film with zero lines at all.
Trailer (HD, 2 Mins.) - A trailer for the film is included.
Camp Nowhere remains a fun film that features every kid or teen's dream -- getting to go to a camp all summer long with zero responsibility and no adults. But while the movie itself still holds up all these years later, the video and audio presentations leave something to be desired from time to time. The only extra is a brand new commentary track with the director, but it's a must-listen. For the commentary track alone, this comes Recommended!