WE ROCK, YOU ROCK, THEY ROCK, WE ALL ROCK @ 14 September 2010 04:42 PM
My kids and I get a kick out of how things are promoted and advertised, especially on TV. My wife and I are big on media literacy, since kids are exposed to advertising almost as soon as they're born.

Anyway, whenever a sequel to something approaches, the marketing department types tend to force "points" into things whether they fit or not. In the case of Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam, their "strategy" was to make it clear that the second film is bigger and better. It's not exactly groundbreaking thinking, but you hear it all the time. So for the last several months Disney Channel has been having their stars tells us how this new Camp Rock is "so much more (insert word here)." My kids laugh at this because of how it infers that that original is somehow inferior.

Of course, that's what advertising types must do -- always go for the new and improved. Curiously, Camp Rock 2 seemed to me to be better than the first film -- but not so to my kids.

I liked the big, exuberant musical numbers. Clearly this film feels the influence of past phenoms like High School Musical and Glee. There's a lot more highly choreographed set pieces here and it's great stuff if you like MGM musicals and Annette movies, which of course I do. The songs are more classic Hollywood "out of nowhere" than in the first film, where they were confined primarily to onstage settings.

My kids like musicals too, but they were missing the gentle, simple story of the first Camp Rock. It was basically a cross between Cinderella (a prince seeking a voice rather than a shoe) and the Mickey Mouse Club "Annette" serial (mean girl accuses nice girl of stealing).

The new movie really is bigger. All three Jonas Brothers have key roles this time around, with the most endearing song sung by Nick. Daniel Fathers as the camp leader is more of a plot focus also, as he competes with a rival camp led by an old rock rival (played by Daniel Kash, an actor whom we were sure was related to Tony Shalhoub in look and voice and still, we think, must be a distant cousin).

Therein may have been what lost my daughter in particular. The story was about ambition and business rather than boy meets girl -- or at least the romance took a backseat to the main plot. Don't get me wrong -- she likes the film and watched it again but prefers the first one.

The one thing we all agree on is the talent and likability of the star, Demi Lovato. She had to carry the first film on her shoulders and delivers a strong presence and performance again. She has a Sally Field quality and we hope she takes her life and career in the best possible dircctions. She's the real deal and we wish her well in the mine field of being a young star in show business.

The DVD does not offer more than a sing along (excuse me, a "rock along") option. The Blu-Ray disc also includes interviews.

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