Full disclosure, I totally thought this film was going to be the quintessential loser camp vs. jock camp flick that has been done a hundred times before. While many familiar elements are there, the story stands on its own as a tale of one man overcoming his own fears and seeding positive change amongst a group of rag-tag misfits
wait a second
okay, yeah, maybe it was closer to my original guess than I had previously thought. Regardless, the Rainbow Tribe was an enjoyable family comedy I would recommend you watch if you have 90 minutes to kill (with family) and don't mind being shamelessly manipulated from laughter to tears.
The plot for the Rainbow Tribe is campy at best (no pun intended), yet it works to simply set the stage for the viewer to autopilot into the film. Troubled counselor + troubled kids + summer camp = hilarious situational comedy! Because it isn't necessary to spend a whole lot of time setting up the plot of the film, more time can be spent enjoying sight gags, childish antics, and subtle adult humor.
While the characters of the Rainbow Tribe are presented rather "cookie cutter-esk," they are given enough fluff to make them more than just two-dimensional carbon copies of summer camp-goers of yore. Since the aforementioned plot requires little heavy lifting, more time was spent in the movie seeding character tidbits which eventually came to fruition either in the form of laughter, tears or both.
The acting for this movie was somewhat mixed. However, I feel it only fair to address the adult actors and child actors separately. To begin with, David James Elliot (whom my mother loves from JAG) provided a lot of heart to this film and, arguably, puts up with a lot of punishment from its production. His ability to maintain a serious undertone to his otherwise lighthearted acting helps bring his character (internal struggles and all) to life. He plays off of the supporting cast very well, especially the child actors whom he is constantly surrounded by and appears to have a genuine bond with. Ed Quinn and Julie Ann Emery play the sort of supporting cast that is strong in all the right places.
Very rarely are you going to find child actors who can act in a family comedy without them seeming a little cheesy or scripted. No offense, but typically the scarily amazing method acting child genius prodigies reserve their talent for more
*cough* "serious" roles than this film provided.
That being said, I felt the talent pool of child actors in this film had some real depth to it. Special mention needs to be made to Grayson Russell and Max Burkholder. Russell, reprising a role eerily familiar to Texas Ranger from Talladega Nights (albeit less hostile), has a good sense of comedic timing and a colorful presence on camera. Burkholder, to his credit, manages to nonverbally communicate a surprising range of emotions and quietly creeps his way into your heart (where he snuggles for the rest of the movie).
From a technical standpoint, the movie has a few bugs. A couple of the mid and far away stunts appear cluttered, while a few of the more close up stunts look like they actually brought physical harm to one or more of the actors. The inconsistency is forgivable, however, because the overall tone of the film leads it to focus less on the serious and more on the humorous. The musical arrangement was nothing special, but it wasn't distracting either.
In closing, if you are looking for an explosion ridden action adventure blockbuster or a deeply layered mind-freak... don't watch this film. If you want a feel-good movie that doesn't compromise the film's characters by completely subverting their initial core character quirks and instead embraces the idea you can change your behavior without changing who you are, give this one a go. I promise, you will either love it, hate it, or something in-between.
Score 8 out of 10. If this film was a sub-sandwich, it would be untoasted and filling but with a few dry bites.