A heist gone wrong leads to a juvenile delinquent hiding at a Christian summer camp. In the most cliched way possible, he learns to let people in, and that found families are just as loyal and loving as the ones we’re related to by blood. Although Camp Hideout has a hopeful message, it’s full of cliches and does little to set itself apart from its predecessors.
The film opens with our tween rebel without a cause, Noah (Ethan Drew), on the run from the law. We find out through a flashback that his association with two bumbling criminals, played by Joshua Childs and Josh Inocalla, has left him on the run from the law. The dastardly duo hired Noah to steal a gaming device encrypted with top-secret information to make the pair rich. If this information seems vague, the movie intentionally leaves it that way. The audience is never told what the top-secret information is and why a gaming device was used to store it.
Not surprisingly, Noah is abandoned by his “buddies” and narrowly escapes jail by attending a weeklong summer camp thanks to his social worker, Selena (Amanda Leighton). While there, Noah will learn to reckon with his past losses and let people into his heart. Helping him on this path is his kind and loyal camp counselor, Jake (Corbin Bleu), his quirky bunkmates (Zion Wyatt and Tyler Kowalski) and a tough but fair groundskeeper (played by the legendary Christopher Lloyd).
Viewers shouldn’t expect anything new when sitting down to watch this movie. Stock characters like the moody, rebellious protagonist, the one-note bully, and the quirky sidekick are all present in this film. While many can appreciate the use of these cliches as a jumping-off point for nuanced storytelling, the characters in this movie get little to no development. Noah is your run-of-the-mill teenage rebel. The film alludes to a tragic incident in his backstory that has led to him spending years in foster care but never thoroughly explains or explores it.
The film’s plot is predictable but does manage to be somewhat fresh during the climax when the entire summer camp bands together to help Noah. Without spoiling too much, the film becomes very reminiscent of Home Alone in how it deals with its villains.
While Ethan Drew isn’t a bad actor, he doesn’t bring nearly as much emotion as he should when the film calls for it. His expression remains unchanged when his character is happy, afraid, shocked, or annoyed. Perhaps with better direction or even a better script, Drew would make more of an impression. He’s tolerable but seriously lacks the charisma needed to be a leading man.
Corbin Bleu gives his all as the kind, caring camp counselor, Jake. He infuses the character with a believable desire to help set Noah on the right path. The enthusiasm and immense big bother energy he brings to the role help inject the film with the charisma it desperately needs. Bleu cares about this film, its position, and its message. It shows in his portrayal, and the movie is stronger for it.
It was surprising to learn that Christopher Lloyd was in this film, but his presence helps elevate the project. The wisdom and gruffness he brings to his role as Falco will keep viewers engaged. He starts as a character many camp attendees fear but reveals a softer side as the film progresses.
Although Camp Hideout doesn’t chart new territory when it comes to the lighthearted, teen summer camp flick, it’s a watchable and pleasant film the entire family can sit down and watch together on a Saturday night.
Camp Hideout is now playing exclusively in theaters courtesy of Roadside Attractions.
Although Camp Hideout doesn't chart new territory when it comes to the lighthearted, teen summer camp flick, it's a watchable and pleasant film the entire family can sit down and watch together on a Saturday night.
Writer. Video Essayist. Film/TV Critic. Pop Culture Enthusiast.
When he isn’t writing for Geek Vibes Nation or creating content for his YouTube channel, Tristian can be found typing away at the young adult novel he has been working on for three years.