There’s nothing so rousing as a show about putting on a show. A catchy song or a great dance sequence or a gut-wrenching key change can atone for many a plot hole (Glee), exhausted cliché (High School Musical), or absurd premise (Hannah Montana). Disney Channel’s Camp Rock franchise proves no exception to this rule: While it adds nothing to the teen-musical genre, it’ll certainly kick your mood up a few notches.
Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam reunites the Jonas Brothers and Demi Lovato from the original 2008 TV movie — a huge hit for the channel that capitalized on the Jonases’ stardom just as they were crossing over into mainstream consciousness. Now old pros, the brothers return, assibling band Connect 3, to spend their summer at Camp Rock during a break from touring so lead singer Shane (Joe Jonas) can spend quality time with girlfriend Mitchie Torres (the dependably appealing Lovato). But a rivalry with the slick new Camp Star across the river cuts into their romantic plans as they attempt to save Camp Rock from financial ruin by winning — yes, please! — a televised performance showdown.
Nothing that ensues will surprise you in the least, of course. Like High School Musical, the entire production is vigorously scrubbed clean of grit and angst and irony. But the Jonas Brothers lend Camp Rock 2 an extra zing that HSM lacked. Drop-dead-dreamy Joe is endearingly self-aware as Shane, who says things like ”Everything’s cool when I do it.” Kevin gamely plays comic relief as the guy assigned to counsel the youngest campers, and the three brothers display a knack for timing in several cutely funny scenes. But it’s Nick who really gets a chance to shine in his romantic plotline, which has him struggling to express his feelings for Camp Star camper Dana (Chloe Bridges, who could — and likely will — play Angelina Jolie’s daughter).
Nick’s adorable acoustic ditty in which he finally reveals himself to her, ”Introducing Me,” will stick in your head far longer than the superproduced numbers. And in a soundtrack full of the Miley Cyrus brand of ”rock,” the Huey Lewis-esque ”Heart and Soul” serves as a refreshing opportunity for the boys to give a real performance, complete with guitar solos and lyrics that name-check Jagger, Springsteen, and Axl (not to mention former Mouseketeer Christina Aguilera). While Camp Rock 2 might not have the cred of School of Rock or the subversive edge of Glee, it’s a true pop song of a movie. B