Entertainment

W.A.F REVIEWS: Camp Cucamonga (1990)

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In 1990, television was in a very different state. Cable and satellite were still in their infancies, streaming services were non-existent, and the internet itself was still in the building stages. Television was mainly dominated by the big networks: NBC, CBS, and ABC. Fox had launched 4 years prior, but by 1990, they were still growing. Sitcoms had been a staple of the networks for multiple decades, and one of the most important parts of a sitcom at that time was kids. Kid stars were practically just as big as Hollywood film stars. With magazines like Tiger Beat & Teen Beat constantly showcasing these kids, it makes sense for their stardom. By September ’90, someone had a novel idea. What if a network made a TV movie where they took a group of the kid stars of the day and put them in a summer camp? Thus, NBC gave us “Camp Cucamonga”!
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If you’ve ever watched a movie about a summer camp before, then you should know how fairly straight-forward the story is. A bunch of teens going through life changes, counselors who struggle with the kids treating them with respect, a bumbling camp director, and a sports tournament with a rival camp. Pretty paint-by-numbers. The story is not the main selling point, though. The casting is. Just look at who they got:
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-John Ratzenberger (“Cheers”) as Director Marvin Shector
-Brian Robbins (“Head Of The Class”) as Roger Burke
-Chad Allen (“My Two Dads”) as Frankie Calloway
-Candace Cameron (“Full House”) as Amber Lewis
-Danica McKellar (“Wonder Years”) as Lindsey Scott
-Josh Saviano (“Wonder Years”) as Max Plotkin
-Jaleel White (“Family Matters”) as Dennis Brooks
-Johnny Galecki (“Roseanne”, “Big Bang Theory”) as Tony Johnson
-Dorothy Lyman (“Mama’s Family”) as Millie Schector
-Sherman Hemsley (“The Jeffersons”) as Herbert Himmel
-Breckin Meyer (“Clueless”) as Cody
-John Snee (“The New Leave It To Beaver”) as Troy
And a pre-“Friends” Jennifer Aniston as Ava Schector, her first credited film role!
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Not to date myself here, but I remember watching this movie when it first aired. My parents decided to record it on VHS, so I have had quite a few viewings over the years. I gotta say, even though its available on DVD, I’m not sure I would ever want to part with my VHS copy. There is just something special about watching the movie, and getting to see the classic 1990 commercials that go with it.
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I’ve got no problem saying that this is by no means a great film. The pacing is a little off, the jokes are bland at times, and the inclusion of a rap video featuring Jaleel White’s character rapping about the camp while the other campers act as backup singers and dancers is rather cringe-worthy. As a summer camp movie, it doesn’t stack up with the likes of movies like “Meatballs” or “Wet Hot American Summer”. But I would suggest putting aside any pre-conceived notions you might have about this movie and simply enjoy it for what it is. A moment in time.

 

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