[Screen It]


(2022) (Tommy Woodard, Eddie James) (PG)

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Comedy: Fathers of two contrasting families spend time together at their church's family camp.

Grace Ackerman (LEIGH-ALLYN BAKER) has had enough of her husband, Tommy's (TOMMY WOODARD), always-on-the-phone, workaholic behavior. Accordingly, she demands that he join her and their kids -- 16-year-old Hannah (CECE KELLY) and her younger brother, Henry (JACOB MICHAEL WADE) -- at their church's family camp retreat.

Tommy begrudgingly goes along but is less than pleased to learn that they must share an unairconditioned yurt with another family. They're the Sanders, and patriarch Eddie (EDDIE JAMES) is an overzealous chiropractor who seemingly has the perfect family with his wife Victoria (GIGI ORSILLO) and their kids, Barb (KESLEE GRACE BLALOCK) and Ed Jr (ELIAS KEMUEL).

As Tommy ends up forced into spending more time with Eddie than he'd like, he learns that family is more important than work, that he should have faith in God, and that not all is always as it initially seems.

OUR TAKE: 4 out of 10

Unless one is a hermit -- or Tom Hanks stranded on a tropical isle with just a volleyball as his companion -- to get through life one must learn how to deal with a variety of people and their various personality types. For most average folks, that's fairly easy to do. That is, as long as you don't have to contend with in-your-face zealots flying their freak flag agenda about politics, religion, or whatever their lifestyle and "passion" might be.

While such sorts are nearly always annoying and to be avoided at all costs in real life, sometimes they can make for good or even great comedic fodder in movies or TV shows (think of the over-the-top skit characters the late, great Chris Farley used to play on "Saturday Night Live").

They're usually designed as the foil for an otherwise fairly normal character and such pairings are often the setup for so-called mismatched "buddy" movies. Such is the intended case in "Family Camp," a religion-based comedy where Tommy Woodard plays the straight man (also named Tommy) to Eddie James' larger-than-life, super-positive, and uber-annoying comedic figure (also named Eddie).

The two performers are better known -- at least in some circles, I had never heard of them -- as The Skit Guys who've made a living doing their religious comedy shtick ever since pairing up in high school. In this offering from writer/director Brian Cates and co-writer Rene Gutteridge, the two meet at a religious family camp where they and their families are forced to share an unairconditioned yurt for the week.

Tommy is there because his wife (Leigh-Allyn Baker) thinks he works too hard and isn't spending enough quality time with her or their kids (Cece Kelly and Jacob Michael Wade). Eddie is there with his wife (Gigi Orsillo) and their kids (Keslee Grace Blaloc and Elias Kemuel) because, well, they seem to love it and need to defend their championship streak of winning the camp's activities challenge.

But when Eddie greets them with sudden grabs and chiropractic cracking of their bodies and breaks out one of many harmonicas he's apparently going to play all week, Tommy, Grace, and the kids realize they're going to be in for a bumpy and annoying ride. As will anyone who's not a diehard fan of the Skit Guys, overacting, or irritating characters.

When done correctly with expert comedic timing and other nuances handled just right, such setups can work in delivering the laughs. While viewer mileage might vary, I found that it didn't and ended up irritated and bored rather than entertained.

It certainly doesn't help that the arcs for both the characters and story are about as predictable as they come in terms of plot (the two main characters clashing, somewhat bonding, and then enduring a third-act falling out when the truth is finally unleashed until the concluding kumbaya finale) and messaging (natch, you need to put faith in God and spend more time with family).

It's also a bit too long (nearly two hours) for this sort of offering, but at least the tech credits are solid enough that this doesn't come off like an amateurish production. But too often the comedy does and thus you might want to avoid spending any time at this "Family Camp." It rates as a 4 out of 10.

Reviewed May 9, 2022 / Posted May 13, 2022

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