Once More With Lip-Sync
I love musicals. There’s something timelessly endearing about watching a good movie and unashamedly singing along to feel-good songs. There’s also nothing quite like watching one live either – especially on Broadway or the West End. These productions live and die by their tone and there’s a delicate balance between feel-good and guilty-pleasure without falling into the trap of being “just another musical.”
Despite some good intentions, A Week Away falls head-first into that aforementioned trap, stumbling all the way to a lackluster and hugely forgettable performance. Away from the cliched and obvious story tropes, this Netflix Original slips up where it matters most – the music. Before we descend down that road, it’s worth pointing out some of the positives.
The film looks great and visually there’s some wonderful dance numbers in here. Several of these songs are performed with large ensembles and the background dancers and supporting cast are obviously having a great time. There’s a distinct crowd this movie is shooting for too, banking on lovers of High School Musical to move away from Zac Efron and into the throngs of another boy that actually looks a lot like him (whether intentional or not) Kevin Quinn.
Kevin plays a tearaway kid called Will Avery. He’s angry at the world following the death of his parents and finds himself on the wrong side of the law. His latest stunt seems him run out of lifelines following a particularly memorable incident stealing a police car. As fate would have it, he’s given one last chance at atonement – summer camp.
Only, this isn’t just any summer camp, this is Camp Aweegaway (Get it? A week away?) a faith-based paradise that slowly helps Will learn the error of his ways and embrace God’s love.
It’s actually a pretty heartfelt story but when it comes to the music, this flick doesn’t just mess up the beat, it become a cacophonous monstrosity. While I understand a lot of the time these movies are lip-synced, more often than not it’s done in a convincing way. A Week Away doesn’t even disguise how poorly dubbed it is and at times it crescendos into some truly disastrous results.
Several songs feature Will mumbling and barely moving his lips during crucial heart-felt lyrics. At the 1 hour and 2 minute mark, Will’s sitting at a campfire and looks bored beyond tears, struggling to even move his lips. This completely takes you out what should be a really important bit of character development for him. These instances crop up right the way through this 90 minute picture too and are not an isolated incident.
It’s hard to find excuses for this too, especially given the extent of close-up shots here that focus on character faces while they’re singing. It’s incredibly distracting, and at times the lips move a fraction faster or slower than the lyrics being sung. Several times I thought my Flix was out of sync only to realize it’s actually just the movie itself.
Most of the songs here fall into the predictable feel-good pop you’d expect, with excellent themes surrounding love, forgiveness and embracing your true self. Unfortunately these films are lost under a veil of auto-tune that hangs over almost every single song. The ensuing result is a soupy, manufactured sludge that’s crying out for a more natural and soulful sound.
Despite all that though, there will be fans of this and some people won’t actually mind the poor lip-syncing. The themes are certainly good and the story is simple enough to throw on in the background while you’re doing other things. However, there’s also nothing outstanding here either leading to a wholly forgettable and soulless disappointment.