Netflixable? Teen endures “A Week Away” at camp with “Jesus Freaks”

“A Week Away” isn’t the most original idea for a movie. A summer camp comedy? At church camp?

But making this a musical and thus one of the most ambitious “faith-based” films in years, mark this “Week” down as a “really good idea” for Netflix.

Shot in and around Nashville, with tunes ranging from borderline insipid to covers of Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith’s biggest hits, with just a whiff of autotune from the fresh-faced cast, it reminds us there are still audiences for Netflix to make inroads with.

It’s not edgy enough for kids looking for “Kissing Booth” and the sexier Joey King fare of previous years. The laughs are cornball and the performances are diabetic coma sweet. But “wholesome?” Relentlessly upbeat and apolitical? Give’em that.

Will (Disney Channel vet Kevin Quinn) is an orphan punk on his way to “juvie,” when he’s given one last chance with Kristin (Sherri Shepherd) and son George (Jabril Cook) at Camp Aweegaway (subtle).

Camp director David (David Koechner, taking a stab at playing PG) is into “Braveheart” campfire ceremonies and “Apocalypse Now” references.

“I love the smell of PAINTball in the morning!”

As the camp is assigned tribes — Crimson Angel, Azure Apostle and Verde Maximus) –Will gets sweet on the director’s daughter (veteran child actress Bailee Madison), lies about his background and tries to coach George into making time with cute “Jesus Freak” (Will’s term) Presley (Kat Connor Sterling).

“I’ll never be the guy who gets the girl,” George whines. “I’m Ducky.” He needs a “John Hughes makeover montage” to have a shot.

The kids trash talk/rap their tribal rivalries — “Red’s gonna beat you, Red’s gonna score, Red’s gonna BEAT you, God LOVES us more!”

The kids do what kids do in such syrupy summer camp (PG) romances. There’s a little melodrama, tears, a crisis of faith.

At least the adults take a shot at bringing the funny. Shepherd does that bug-eyed freak out thing she does so well.

“I will COME at you with the WRATH of God!”

All of which add up to nothing much that’s fresh to see or hear here, a near miss. But that doesn’t mean the intent isn’t smart. A couple of better tunes, a more original setting and performances with more POP than “pop” and Netflix could serve another niche Hollywood is struggling to reach.

MPA Rating: TV-PG

Cast: Kevin Quinn, Bailee Madison, Jabril Cook, Sherri Shepherd, Kat Conner Sterling, Iain Tucker and David Koechner

Credits: Directed by Roman White, script by Alan Powell and Kali Bailey. A Netflix release.

Running time: 1:34

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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