Ben Platt has been my nemesis since I sat through Dear Evan Hansen, but I am almost ready to forgive him for that wild piece of emotional manipulation because his new film, Theater Camp, is a fun, quirky comedy about drama dorks and musical nerds. (Full disclosure, Theater Camp was screened at the Chicago Critics Film Festival, for which I am a programmer.) 


Platt stars as Amos, one of the beleaguered directors of a failing performing arts camp in upstate New York. His partner in theater is Rebecca-Diane (Molly Gordon), and their camp is in trouble when their founder falls into a coma, leaving her crypto-bro son (American Vandal alum Jimmy Tatro) in charge.

Theater Camp comes from first time directors Molly Gordon and Nick Lieberman, and was co-written by Gordon, Lieberman, Platt, and Noah Galvin (Platt’s real-life partner). Back in 2020, they made a short film of the same name together and have now turned it into a feature. It definitely has a clubby in-group feel, and you wonder how much Platt’s nepo baby status helped in getting it made, but it features a solid ensemble including Patti Harrison, Ayo Edebiri, Minari’s Alan Kim, and Nathan Lee Graham, aka Zoolander’s Todd. It’s a great ensemble, the kid cast is really strong, and even I, a known musical un-enthusiast, got a kick out of the grand finale song and dance number. Theater Camp sits somewhere at the nexus of Wet Hot American Summer and Todd Graff’s 2003 cult classic, Camp, and like both of those films, Theater Camp seems destined for cult status. 


It's also destined to be the film that gets Ben Platt back into a lot of people’s good graces after his disastrous turn in the adaptation of Dear Evan Hansen. Playing an overdramatic drama teacher is definitely more in Platt’s wheelhouse than playing a high schooler, he’s also better when he’s allowed to play bitchy (which is why he’s so good in Ryan Murphy’s The Politician). Ben Platt’s cinematic comeback is here, and I don’t mind as long as he makes movies as good as Theater Camp.