Will (Kevin Quinn) was a teenage delinquent whose last misdemeanor was stealing a police car. At the risk of being sent to a juvenile detention facility, he reluctantly accepted an invitation to go to a Christian summer camp with Ms. Kristin (Sherri Shepherd) and her son George (Jahbril Cook).
Upon arrival, Will felt the activities were corny and not really his thing. But when he met Avery (Bailee Madison), the daughter of the camp director David (David Koechner), she encouraged him to participate more actively.
Being a teen musical film, comparisons to "High School Musical" and "Camp Rock" are inevitable. But the songs in this one are from the Christian genre. There were a number of catchy original songs with words and music by Adam Watts, Alan Powell and Cory Clark, best of which was the infectious final song "Best Thing Ever." However, there were also some familiar '90s hit songs from the Billboard Christian and Hot 100 pop charts, like "Baby Baby" by Amy Grant and "Place in this World" by Michael W. Smith.
There were a lot of fun pop culture references peppered throughout the script. Aside from the namedropping of classic movies like "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" and many more, there was a major adaptation of the sorting hat ceremony from the Harry Potter books and films. Here, there was a Tribunal night where the new campers were divided into three teams, namely the Crimson Hearts (with Avery), the Azure Apostles (with Sean) and Verdes Maximus (with George), but this one had "Pitch Perfect"-like jamming afterwards.
As Will, Kevin Quinn had Troy Bolton vibes, looks and voice-wise, though at 23, he frankly did not exactly look like a teenager anymore. Bailee Madison is a pretty and winsome young lady, and her singing voice was beautiful, especially when she led in the singing of Rich Mullin's "Awesome God" in the campfire. As George, Jahbril Cook was awkward and nerdy as his character required, but he also nailed his solo on Amy Grant's "Baby Baby," dedicated to his crush Presley, coyly played by Kat Conner Sterling.
This film was generally lighthearted and very wholesome, given that it had a religious theme. There were bible lessons dropped along the way but things never became too preachy, with the spirit of fun still dominating the mood.
It did had its serious moments at its climax as certain characters make rash decisions and actions, and the emotions in these scenes do connect well. You can easily foresee how things were going to work out at the ending, with the whole cast singing an uplifting song of togetherness.
This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."