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Movie Review

Mitchie, Shane and their Camp Rock crew return for another summer of song—just like the good ol' days of 2008. They build a bonfire, plug in their amps and …

Wait, what's that?

Yeah, over there, on the other side of the lake.

No, no, besides the moose.

It looks like … could it be … yes, it's another camp! And it's run by none other than Axel Turner, evil nemesis of Camp Rock bigwig Brown Cesario!

That can't be good.

And it isn't. Axel appears to do the right thing at first, kindly inviting the Camp Rockers over for a visit. But then, once they've been suitably impressed with his massive stage and air-conditioned cabins and in-forest recording studios, Axel invites them to literally switch camps. And if any Camp Rock counselors want to cross over to the dark side, too? Axel greases the wheels by offering to double their pay.

Most of the campers decide to stick with Brown's Camp Rock. But the counselors leave in droves, mumbling something about the economy as they shuffle away. So it looks like Camp Rock will be forced to close.

Mitchie, surely aware that she's been able to burst into sweet, sweet song only once to this point, refuses to leave until she and her fellow campers have gotten enough material for an entire album. She and the rest of the camp break into a rousing number in the main lodge before telling Brown that she and some of the other, older pupils will assume all counselor duties.

The transition goes remarkably smoothly—too smoothly for the overachieving Mitchie. Looking for a new quixotic goal, Mitchie gathers the camp and gets them to—literally���dance over to Camp Star, where they challenge the residents to a no-holds barred performance competition.

Axel, his mind twisting and turning all the while, accepts—and uses his connections to put the thing on television. The winner will be decided by a vote of the viewers, with the winning camp securing bragging rights forever and ever and ever.

And the losers? Well the losers might as well pack their bags and go home. The lakeside's not big enough for two elite musical camps. One of 'em will have to take a hike.

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Positive Elements

Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam might be seen (if you squint really, really hard) as a retelling of the Star Wars saga—just without the droids and wookies. Camp Star would be the corrupt Empire—loaded with wealth and power and a Death Star-sized stage, complete with explosions and pyrotechnics. The plucky rebellion—that'd be Camp Rock—aims to launch an assault on said Death Star, overthrow the Empire and restore the balance of the Force.

And in this case, the Force is music.

Axel's Camp Star is all about using music as a vehicle to stardom, and the campers who go there are single-minded in their desire to succeed.

"It's a tough business," Luke, one of Camp Star's talented pupils, tells Mitchie.

"It's summer camp!" Mitchie exclaims. Which neatly expresses Camp Rock's more laid-back ethos. Brown's not trying to churn out single-friendly radio stars, and instead is all about "encouraging kids in their love of music." His campers work hard, of course, and yes, many want to be stars. But fame is not the stated object. Fun is.

Mitchie, in her worthwhile quest to save Camp Rock and beat Camp Star at its own game, loses her way in this regard for a while. "That girl's taking the F-U-N out of summer," one of her friends says. But it takes her less than an hour (of movie time at least) to rediscover the importance of fun, and of balance—while the rest of the camp takes on her sense of urgency and desire to work hard for something really worth it.

She and her pals also learn the value of friendship, the importance of sharing with others, and of allowing even the littlest campers to participate in a big way.

I could go on. Camp Rock 2 is so sweet and sunny as to make even other Disney flicks look a little cynical by comparison. It's the sort of story where those plucky rebels save the day—but not, perhaps, in the way you'd expect.

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Shane and Mitchie are an "item" at camp, and a subplot revolves around the couple's struggles to get together. But even if they did spend more screen time in the same frame, one would expect that their relationship would remain chaste. We see them quickly kiss near the end. And before that they hold hands and hug.

Nate, meanwhile, has eyes for Axel's daughter, and he spends much of the movie watching her from afar with a pair of binoculars. That's a tad creepy when you think about it. And she, at one point, returns the favor.

Dance moves are sometimes vaguely suggestive, with dancers thrusting chests and hips.

Violent Content

Shane, Nate and Jason's tour bus tumbles into a lake. (They're not in it.) Nate punches Shane in the arm. Mitchie tackles Shane. Jason rolls down a hill. A bracelet hits Nate in the eye.

Crude or Profane Language

A use or two of "gosh."

Drug and Alcohol Content

None.

Other Negative Elements

Jason, tasked with shepherding Camp Rock's "junior rockers," suffers from their lack of respect as the wee campers run roughshod over him. And even when he demands their respect, they still have some fun at his expense: They trick him into smearing his face with shaving cream while asleep and put glue on a log on which he sits. When he realizes what's happened, the junior rockers taunt him, calling him "log butt." "If there's one thing worse than being called log butt, it's being sat on by log butt," he tells them as he chases them around the campfire. Jason and his junior rockers also spy on Star Camp.

Campers engage in a bit of trash talk (and trash song)—most of it instigated by Camp Star. And while Mitchie and Co. sing that music should ideally unite people, not divide them, she sometimes doles out a bit of braggadocio. "We just know that Camp Rock is going to blow you guys away," she tells Luke.

Conclusion

Fame is a cultural obsession—a desire rooted in our longing to be noticed, to be important. Children, it's said, naturally feel this desire with particular strength. Dan Schneider, creator of such popular Nickelodeon shows as iCarly and Victorious, admitted to the Los Angeles Times recently that he consciously crafts his material to play to that desire, and he's not alone. Lots and lots of the kids' shows we see on Nick and Disney revolve around really likable—famous—characters. Sure, they're regular kids. But they're better. Better why? Because they're famous, of course.

That's not what's happening in Camp Rock 2, though. While the movie itself could be called little more than a well-executed commercial product meant to sell DVDs and albums and maybe lunchboxes, its messages defy that mentality. Some of these Camp Rock heroes and heroines long for fame and some are already famous, but that's not why they're there. They've come to chase fireflies and have water balloon fights and talk and sing and dance. They've come for the love of the music—and not just music, with its catchy tunes, thumping baselines and graceful dance steps, but Music, the joy, the charis of life.

"Every song can't be a hit," Mitchie tells Shane. "You said so yourself. That doesn't mean we have to stop singing."

We're all given gifts. And most of us aren't given them to be famous. We're given some of our gifts to taste a bit of the beauty and glory behind them. We sing because we love to sing. We dance because we love to dance. We paint, we tell jokes, we run, we write, we listen … because when we do these things, we feel God's joy in them.

I hear this message in the mood and spirit of Camp Rock 2. And because I do, I kinda hope Disney sells a lot of lunchboxes.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

G

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Demi Lovato as Mitchie Torres; Joe Jonas as Shane; Nick Jonas as Nate; Kevin Jonas as Jason; Matthew 'Mdot' Finley as Luke; Meaghan Jette Martin as Tess Tyler

Director

Paul Hoen ( The Cheetah Girls: One WorldJump In!)

Distributor

Walt Disney

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

On Video

September 7, 2010

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Paul Asay

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