by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: *1/2 (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: * (out of 5 stars)
Mila Kunis as SOPHIE
Gregory Edward Smith as BEN
Peter Stormare as NORMAN HAIL
Regine Nehy as TRINA
Alejandro Rae as JACK
Directed by: Christian Duguay
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Sophie is a rebellious teenager who will do anything to upset her mother and stepfather. After she crosses a line by ruining a dinner party for them, they ship her off to a tough love boot camp in the Fiji Islands. Her boyfriend Ben also enlists in the boot camp to help her escape, and hoping to uncover the questionable practices of the boot camp’s leader, Norman Hail (Peter Stormare).
WHAT I LIKED
On the surface, I liked the concept of this movie. I know as a film critic, I should learn that you can’t judge a movie by its trailer, but I did. There was a definite sense of creepiness in the promotions of this film. Plus, I have been curious lately to see what Mila Kunis can do as an actor outside of “That 70s Show” and her larger roles in films like “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.”
The movie definitely had promise, and it is a relevant topic considering there are plenty of these tough love boot camp programs out there.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
Unfortunately, the film doesn’t live up to its trailer... or even its poster. “Boot Camp” definitely comes at you with a message about the need for oversight in these programs. I can’t say this is unfounded, since there have been people who have died in the process. However, this movie fails to make a compelling argument aside from the whining of teens who have been sent there against their will.
The movie makes a strawman out of an isolated case, and the blame seems to fall more on the choice of an international boot camp far outside of the U.S. The crimes committed in the film fall to a single worker at the camp, which is hardly an indictment of the programs.
When the specific crimes of sexual assault in the film are taken out of the picture, the boot camp doesn’t seem that extreme at all. Add to the fact that the kids incarcerated are either spoiled rich brats (like Kunis’ character of Sophie) or real troublemakers (like one kid that emailed Columbine-style threats then claimed he was just constructing a character to piss of his parents), and I had no sympathies for them.
Finally, the poor writing in the film gives into its own mob mentality by making those in the boot camp literally become caricatures of angry villagers from an old “Frankenstein” film. It just got ridiculous at the end.
The DVD comes with no special features outside of the theatrical trailer.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
People who want to see Mila Kunis get beaten down for 90 minutes.