Easily compared to the likes of High School Musical and Camp Rock, A Week Away tries hard to be like its predecessors yet falls short of the mark.
Written by Becca Johnson
A Week Away is a new Netflix Original teen musical about a troubled young man named Will who has two choices: go to juvenile detention centre, or attend a Christian summer camp. After a crush develops towards Avery, a fellow camper, Will starts to discover himself and the world around him as he learns to open his heart whilst engrossing himself in camp activities.
It's hard to watch this movie without a smile on your face, and every cast member appeared to be having a lot of fun, too. Bailee Madison (Bridge to Terabithia) and Kevin G. Quinn (Hubie Halloween) were pretty believable in their lead roles, and at times showed a great deal of chemistry. The acting across the board wasn't the best, but each actor completely became their character and fell into their roles. The likeability of the characters definitely aided the acting; Will was someone you could get behind and root for, and Avery was super sweet and charming. A younger teenage audience will definitely get on board with these characters.
Songs are what can make or break a musical, and luckily, A Week Away was full of pretty catchy tunes. The soundtrack combines original songs with reimagined Christian classics to create a bouncy and upbeat experience. However, the songs definitely didn't sound like they had enough spark to be as memorable as that from other musicals. Religion is a large running theme throughout the movie, and those who don't follow Christianity may not be able to get on board with the God-themed tracks. Some tracks go for the preachy approach, whereas others are simply about having fun with our characters.
The story is where the movie falters. At times, it took a dive into the exploration of grief which was a little surface level yet important nonetheless. Both of our leads have lost a parent, so we get to see how that affects them and also how it can bring them together. This was balanced nicely with some throw-away scenes of the characters paint-balling and playing music for their peers. On the other hand, every single plot beat was extremely predictable. From the moment the movie starts until it draws to a close, it's too easy to see how things will play out. The movie has a unique edge when it's come to its religious sub-plot, yet the rest of the storyline adds nothing new to the genre. To an adult audience it will come across as very cringe-worthy, yet hopefully its messages about being truthful and becoming a better person can resonate with a younger audience.
A Week Away may not be as memorable as the teen musicals that came out of the Disney era due to its pretty niche religious undertone that may not be digestible by all, as well as its corny romances and predictable character disagreements. However, it tries very hard to be lively, fun and upbeat, definitely achieving something in the entertainment department. The cast and film makers are clearly having a blast, and though you may not be singing these songs in years to come, it can without a doubt offer a couple of hours of cheesy amusement for young adults.