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Girls Rock! (2007) - Movie Review

Music Teaches Self-Esteem

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating

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Girls Rock! (2007) - Movie Review

Palace is a featured player in Girls Rock!

Shadow Distribution
Girls Rock! is an exuberant documentary that follows four eight- to 18-year-old girls through their lively, inspiring experiences at the Portland, Oregon-based Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls, where they're taught both music and self-esteem.

An Inspiring Movie About Kids

The lucky girls who are accepted into the camp's week-long program explore their talents and creative impulses under the disciplining and nurturing tutelage of a group of women indie rockers who run the camp because they want to give back.

During their camp week, the film's four lead girls (and their peers who appear with them) learn to play instruments, get into good practice habits, write lyrics and compose their own songs, form several rock bands and, as the week's finale, present their triumphant performances to an audience of 700 friends, family, fans and each other.

Directed by Arne Johnson and Shane King, the film is an entertaining and eye-opening commentary about contemporary adolescence for girls in the US. In focusing on adolescent success stories, Rock Camp! calls to mind other similarly themed documentaries--such as Spellbound and Mad Hot Ballroom--and narrative features--including School of Rock and October Sky--where the fostering of children's creativity and support of their determination to fulfill their dreams leads to their great accomplishments.

Here, the Rock Camp!kids come away with a better idea of who they are and what they want to do with their lives.

Empowering One Girl At A Time

Girls Rock! shows the camp experience for girls of different ages and at different stages in their development. It's immediately clear that the experience gives the two younger girls, Palace--who seems to feel an underlying disconnect with her peers--and Amelia--who writes songs about her pet pooch, Pipi--a reassuring sense of belonging and camaraderie that they’ve not felt elsewhere. Guided by the camp‘s disciplined-while-nurturing approach, the two girls thoroughly enjoy their freedom of expression as they wail, take stances and cutely imitate the high volume antics of their favorite rockers--and, ultimately, develop their own burgeoning styles.

The two featured teenagers, Misty and Laura, seem to be at opposite ends of the spectrum with regard to lifestyle and personality type, but both come to Rock Camp (the camp and the film) suffering from low self-esteem. Laura, a Korean adoptee, adores metal. Misty has survived meth addiction, homelessness and gangs. Both girls are visibly transformed by the Rock Camp experience. It‘s wonderfully refreshing to witness their individual strengths emerge.

For the girls, Rock Camp is not only a temporary escape from the various hardships of their routines at home, it’s a bridge to a richer, more expressive, happier future. For us, Rock Camp! is like a road map that leads to a treasure--and the treasure is what happens when the camp’s heroic leaders, a group of spirited and generous indie rock women--Carrie Brownstein of Slater-Kinney, for example, who’ve decide they’re going to get together to change girls’ lives for the better.

Stats to Back Up The Thesis

The film's directors back up their presentation of the Rock Camp experience and enhance our impressions about the camp's effect and importance by providing background information--and stats--about the pressures and challenges girls face while they’re growing up in today’s difficult world. Misty's drug-related background makes her the most at risk of the film's lead characters, but the others are also very much in need of guidance in developing coping skills. The directors' periodic referencing of hard facts and realities makes us realize how lucky these Rock Camp-ers are to have come to such a nurturing situation.

This film is a must-see for kids--especially for girls--and their parents.

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