By Zoe Talbot
When Will Hawkins (Kevin Quinn) is caught stealing a cop car, he is presented with two options: juvie or summer camp. The teen has very few options left after cycling through seven schools in six months and 22 foster homes following the death of his parents when he was younger.
Despite his hesitation, he opts to go to Camp Aweegaway. He quickly learns that Camp Aweegaway is a Christian camp, centered around exploring and centering your faith, making him all the more wary of the atmosphere he is about to spend the week in. Through fun camp games and musical numbers, Will is put on a path to finding love, a family and friends after a long time of feeling alone.
Upon arriving, Will immediately takes interest in the camp counselor’s daughter Avery (Bailee Madison) after spotting her mid-dance number. New and nerdy friend George (Jahbril Cook) warns Will that she is out of his league and would not be interested in a bad-boy type like him, but that does not stop him from talking to her and wanting to get to know her. George gets his own secondary romance with shy and awkward Presley (Kat Conner Sterling), and he is convinced he needs Will’s help to become “the type of guy who gets the girl.”
Will agrees to help George in exchange for keeping his criminal record and complicated past a secret from the campers and especially from Avery. While this plays out, Will must also deal with the competitive and obnoxious Sean (Iain Tucker) and his “God Squad,” both in and outside of the traditional Camp Aweegaway Games, who hopes to get in Will’s way in every way possible.
Audiences spend the film watching these events unfold, waiting for Will’s secret to inevitably slip and cause Avery to reevaluate their relationship and Will’s character; if he cared about her, why would he lie? Of course, we’re anticipating the happy ending, but the drama in this oasis of happiness is still something worth noting for a moment of honesty and emotion between the two struggling teens.
The film is exactly what I expected it to be, playing out like a Disney-esque movie musical with the addition of organized religion and a less stimulating soundtrack. It definitely reads like any other YA musical, but this familiarity is almost comforting to those who were raised in the 2000’s with similar projects coming out regularly.
Quinn, who looks like he could be an Efron, is the charming but emotionally distant counterpart to Madison’s loving and competitive girl coping with the loss of her mother, both finding solace in one another and in songs with less-than-great choreography. Especially since cheesy is the camp’s namesake.
Avery’s father, Mark (Ed Amatrudo), explains to Will that “Aweegaway” is a sort of play on “A Week Away” because the camp is about spending a week away from your normal life, and a week away from civilization. Furthermore, when you arrive, you might only be a week away from finding new friends, love or just an incredibly life changing experience. Avery, who has been at the camp for more than a decade, lives by this, but Will’s skepticism is, of course, met by him finding all of those things over the course of seven days with his new friends.
Despite all of these things, I enjoyed the film’s predictable format and warm message about finding a family in the most unpredictable of places. For what the film is — a movie musical about finding love and friendship at a Bible camp — it was interesting to watch unfold, and had a unique premise that made me eager to watch.
I don’t find “A Week Away” to be anything new, show stopping or award winning; the songs are just okay, the choreography is silly, and it is most definitely cliche. That being said, the cast is bright, fresh, and exciting, the scenes are fun and heart-warming, and I don’t expect much other than cliche from a YA movie musical. I enjoyed it a lot, and would recommend streaming for something cute and not requiring your full attention while you enjoy your recharge week!