Directed by Jacob Cooney Starring Michael Grant, Jim Norton, Booboo Stewart, Eric Allan Kremer, Samantha Basalan Indie Film Review by Annie Vincent
In Pitching Tents, Jacob Cooney and writers Rob Fox and Jayme Petrille have created a feel-good coming of age story that will leave you with a warm, nostalgic feeling.
Set during the summer of 1984, Pitching Tents follows Danny and his friends on a graduation trip to Trout Camp, where the boys hope to spend one of their last weekends together partying. The urban legend: that the woods of Trout Camp also play host to the beauties who make up ‘Goddess Camp’, causes excitement for some, scepticism for others, but an awakening for Danny, who is at a crossroads in his life. When he meets Alison, he finally considers his future: does he go to college or does he take the factory job his father has fought so hard to win him?
This film is a great throwback to many teen movies, loaded with a cool and energetic soundtrack, ‘Frat-style’ teen jokes and some touching ‘coming of age’ moments. It is certainly an indie feature film worth a look.
Michael Grant is a good cast as Danny, oozing a cool, nonchalant exterior with just the right amount of sensitivity to convey the vulnerability of a boy becoming a man of his own making. He is also a great romantic lead and produces some convincing intimate moments with Samantha Basalan, which aren’t always expected in movies like this. Jim Norton is excellent and delivers a number of laugh-out-loud lines that reflect exactly what the audience wish they could say about teenage behaviour. His character, Mr Mulligan, becomes the catalyst for the story, with a vested interest in getting Danny into college and whilst he doesn’t succeed quite as he’d like, he does remind Danny of the need to ‘dream’, making the film really uplifting. I can’t pretend that the plot is ground-breaking, but it is comfortingly familiar.
At times, this is exactly like other 80s teen movies you’ve seen. The hallmarks of those fun, feel-good, American movies we used to see are all there, and it is so enjoyable to watch. Sometimes those hallmarks come out as clichés: Alison’s advice to Danny about following his artistic talents is a little too forced and sounds so unoriginal you don’t blame him for shouting at her. But then the next moment will deliver a warmth and subtlety from the actors that makes you think you’re not in ‘yet another teen-movie’ at all. The comedy can be crude and is reminiscent of American Pie in places, but the film doesn’t rely on it. The teenage romance is age-appropriate and quite sensitive, rather than coarse or mocking. And best of all, our protagonist strikes out on his own, away from what is expected, inciting that nostalgia for the freedom of our youth.
Watching Pitching Tents feels like an afternoon in the pub with your old school friends, reminiscing about old times. It revisits the best bits of a 1980s coming of age film, with sensitivity and subtlety. Watch and enjoy.