Movie: Magic Camp
Director: Judd Ehrlich
Studio: Flatbush Pictures

Magic Camp is a marvelous character driven documentary that lives up to the fantastic reputation of its subject matter.

Most of us have been to camp. When I was a kid my parents sent me away to church camp for a week every summer until high school, then it was band camp. Whether you went to those kinds of camps or a sports camp, or science camp, odds are that week away from home was the thing that you looked forward to the most every summer. In Pennsylvania there is a special camp for aspiring young magicians that famous faces like David Blaine and David Copperfield once attended, and this camp is amazing in more ways than one. Tannen’s Magic Camp is so unique and interesting, in fact, that it is now the subject of a entertaining new documentary.

Magic Camp focuses on a handful of kids attending the camp ranging from a young teen with Tourette’s syndrome to a 16 year old girl (one of seven in the whole camp). The varying characters are all out to win the magic competition at the end of the week and I have to say they are all pretty damn good at magic. Each kid has their own story, and viewers watch as they deal with different problems throughout the week outside of working on their act. No person’s story really stands out more than the others, but none are forgettable either.

Not long into the film you will find yourself identifying with someone, which ultimately gives you someone to root for the rest of the movie. Even those with no interest in magic whatsoever will relate and be entertained because at the end of the day this is a character driven documentary with the framing of a magic camp. It’s not about the act, though it’s admittedly an appealing aspect of the film. It’s about how like-minded people from all walks of like come together one week each year to be a part of a community, and how in doing so learn something about themselves.

The only real problem I found with Magic Camp is the lack of creativity behind the magic camp framing device. If you’ve seen one tale of people often considered outcasts finding a community they can relate to, you’ve definitely seen what you’ll find in this film. It’s documentary filmmaking 101, with no slick graphics and no shots worth writing home about. That does not necessarily change how entertaining it is, as the subject keeps you interested, but it would have been nice to see that extra edge to make Magic Camp really stand out.

Magic fans and enthusiasts will fall in love with Magic Camp right out of the gate, and those with little interest in magic will still be drawn in from the variety of characters who share their story. As far as documentaries go this is definitely in the top tier, even if it does not find new ways to tell its story.

Make sure you check out Magic Camp at select theaters now, or when it hits iTunes on July 9th.

Score: B

Review written by: Justin Proper

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