Q: What does Jennifer Aniston (from Friends), Mötley Crüe, Cliff (from Cheers), DJ Tanner (from Full House), Urkel (from Family Matters) and Winnie Cooper AND Paul (from Wonder Years) have in common?
A: This pile of flaming, camp garbage, Camp Cucamonga!
If you are ever out in the wilderness (of movie watching) and you come across a camp movie that actually describes itself as the “zaniest” (anything), your first natural instinct would be to run… but not cottagemixtape.com. Our dedication to watching every camp, cottage or cabin movie is undaunted. Instead, we stare the beast in the eye, unflinching. When one’s natural reaction would be to overt one’s gaze and slowly back away, we carry on! And continue watching in order to relate how terrible the whole experience was. The last movie we reviewed was about bear attack, but this in many ways is no less brutal. Today, in Rockwood Cinema Review we take a look at 1991’s made-for-tv movie, Camp Cucamongo.
Camp Cucamongo plays by the rules when it comes to the conventions of a camp movie and “camp” couldn’t be more appropriate when describing this movie. The jokes are terrible, the cast is clearly plucked out of the NBC roster, and was probably concocted in a board room (bored room). It probably aired on NBC some afternoon on a Saturday, after morning cartoons or Saved By The Bell (who knows) but I must have missed this one. My 11-year old self probably had better things to do. Watching it now makes me think about life decisions: How did I get here? When do I turn this off? And so on…
So, I never saw it when it originally aired, but it stands as a relic, a time capsule of a certain time in entertainment, with cheap gags and cheaper thrills. Camp Cucamonga features many familiar faces, including Josh Saviano (The Wonder Years), John Ratzenberger (Cheers), Danica McKellar or were about to become familiar with (Jennifer Aniston, Breckin Meyer, Jaleel White, etc.) It has a very loose, conventional narrative about kids come to camp, looking for fun and maybe even some teen hook-ups.
They come from different places and different walks of life, with their own set of issues but they learn to pull together as a group to overcome various obstacles. Just as the owner of the camp, Marvin Schector (played by John Ratzenberger) overcomes his own obstacles when he confuses a repairman (played by Sherman Hemsley) with a camp inspector (played by with G. Gordon Lilly!) That’s right! And to top that off, G. Gordon Lilly makes his comedic debut! That’s right the G. Gordon Lilly from such real-life zaniness as Richard Nixon’s campaign, who was responsible for directing the thefts in the Watergate scandal. That’s right its the classic, old-fashioned switcheroo, misunderstanding at the camp! Hot diggity dog!… and more general “zaniness” ensues.
Some serious 90’s daytime tv-programming in effect here that was never meant to see the theatres. Meant to showcase upcoming stars along side more established actors from NBC roster. Effectively they were trying to cast a pair of pantyhose to net to some fish, the results, however are more like steaks ala Max (which will all make sense when you, if you watch this). The result is some seriously bad tv that is so bad it could have been produced by Tim and Eric, like Beef House but less extreme.
There are some rock and roll references in the movie, besides the nameless studio rock used in the segues (“Welcome To The Human Race!” when they are riding around on bikes. These references are mostly through Danica McKellar’s character who plays the tough rocker chick with the leather jacket and tough as leather attitude. Wearing Mötley Crüe tees with Cinderella and Metallica posters, Winnie Cooper is still too cool for Kevin. That dude was stuck in the 60’s. Here’s a monologue for you Kevin: “get bent!” (guitar sound).
Length: 1h 33m
Rated: G for GARBAGE. Seriously though its a TV movie for kids.
Best time to watch: When you are hungover and slipping in an out of consciousness on the couch.