Camp Rock Review
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According to my six-year-old niece, her friend is obsessed with the Disney Channel’s pop-singing heartthrobs, the Jonas Brothers. When I responded with “Well, they are kinda cute, right?” she looked at me as though a huge, glittering horn had just sprouted from my head.

I suppose, then, that my niece is still a bit young to be swooning over the Brothers’ new made-for-TV Disney Channel musical, Camp Rock. But, like High School Musical before it, this one is sure to become an instant slumber party favorite for preteen girls.

Really, though, Camp Rock isn’t about the Jonas Brothers. It’s about Mitchie Torres (Demi Lovato), an average girl with above-average musical talent. All she wants is to spend her summer at the prestigious Camp Rock—and when her mom, Connie (Maria Canals-Barrera), is hired as the camp’s caterer, Mitchie is thrilled that she’s allowed to come along.

Also spending the summer at Camp Rock is rebellious teen rocker Shane Gray (Joe Jonas), whose bandmates have sent him back to the camp as a counselor—in an attempt to get him to calm down and focus on his music.

At camp, Mitchie finds herself pretending to be someone she’s not, just to be popular. And instead of focusing on her own music, she ends up becoming just another backup singer for It-Girl Tess Tyler (Meaghan Jette Martin). For a while, she manages to juggle her work in the kitchen with her in-crowd schedule—and even a new friendship with Shane—but it’s only a matter of time before her lies come back to haunt her.

Like the wildly popular High School Musical, Camp Rock is a cute and wholesome teen musical that will have viewers singing and dancing along while they learn a few valuable life lessons. It’s a sort of Cinderella story—one that will teach girls to be themselves and follow their heart.

Unlike HSM, on the other hand, Camp Rock doesn’t have that Disney camp factor. By that, I mean it’s not quite as silly and over-the-top. Though there are a few silly, slapstick moments, the laughs are a bit more refined, and the message is a bit more pronounced. The villains aren’t quite as over-the-top, and the side characters aren’t as goofy. And though I enjoyed the silliness of High School Musical, I can definitely appreciate Camp Rock’s subtler approach.

Of course, as you’d probably expect from a made-for-TV kids’ movie, Camp Rock isn’t without its flaws. The bad characters aren’t exactly convincing (Jonas, especially, is just too cute to be believable as an angsty teen rebel), and there are a number of little details that don’t make a whole lot of sense. But it’s a fun pre-teen movie nonetheless. Lovato and Jonas may be more understated than HSM’s stars, but they’re absolutely adorable. The music, which ranges from teen pop to hip-hop—is catchy and upbeat. And, of course, there are plenty of morals to the story. So if your pre-teen daughter is having her friends over for an end-of-summer slumber party, surprise them by picking up a copy of Camp Rock, and they’ll think you’re the coolest parent ever.

DVD Review:
If your daughter is as obsessed with the Jonas Brothers as my niece’s friend is—or if she’s a rock star in the making—she’ll love the Extended Rock Star Edition of Camp Rock. For Jonas fans, there’s a short feature on the band—and how they got where they are today. And for future pop princesses, there are plenty of singalongs and videos and karaoke features to keep them busy for hours. There’s even a series of tutorials with the cast and crew, entitled How to Be a Rock Star.

The extended disc also includes a couple of behind-the-scenes features, an interview with Demi Lovato, photos taken by the cast and crew, and more. So if your favorite teen is a superstar in the making—or just a Disney Channel fan—this DVD is filled with all kinds of fun extras that will have her singing and dancing all the way back to school.

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