Netflix’s A Week Away Review: A faith-based musical not worth putting any faith in
Last year, Netflix added their own terrible take on a Hallmark Channel movie with Dangerous Lies and this year they add their own version of Disney Channel Original Movie with A Week Away.
Honestly, there’s a lot of aspects of A Week Away that evoke the feel of DCOM’s like Camp Rock. The film stars two Disney Channel alums in Kevin Quinn (Bunk’d) and Bailee Madison (Wizards of Waverly Place). The plot of a troubled teen named Will (Quinn) being forced to head to a summer camp where his outlook on life is changed through the people he meets and the relationship he develops with another camper named Avery (Madison) fits in neatly with the kind stories DCOMs have. Even the fact that it’s a summer camp musical gives off some Camp Rock vibes.
Now, most DCOMs are generally mediocre TV-movies, but they have their own charm to them. Most of them are now super nostalgic and are generally a feel-good watch that’s fun for a wide age range. A Week Away definitely tries to get into that same demographic and have that same feel and it gets there in a few ways. The overall corny feel of it and opening credits definitely hits those same DCOM levels and certain moments between Will and Avery opening up about their personal issues allow for Quinn and Madison to give solid performances. However, unlike the DCOM movies it’s trying to emulate, A Week Away lacks a sense of charm that makes its overt Christian messaging and, in your face, musical moments totally unbearable.
The big thing that definitely separates A Week Away from being a straight up DCOM is its added Christian elements. Now, there’s nothing wrong with films that have Christian or really any religious beliefs be a major part of the film. Frankly, films like Breakthrough and The Shack have strong Christian and faith-based backbones to their stories and they’re actually pretty good. A Week Away however utilizes its Christian elements way too strongly and it’s incredibly far from subtle. Most songs and interactions seem normal at first, but then eventually something about the characters’ Christian faith is just shoved in. Honestly, it was initially easy to relate to Will solely because he shared my same sense of confusion with how the songs and characters he interacts with obscenely stick in religious text. For instance, there’s a moment where Will is asked to answer questions about himself to everyone and someone literally asks him what his favorite book in the bible is after other totally normal questions.
The film easily features some of the most forced writing when it comes to its Christian elements and the songs almost feel ripped from a mass. There’re some songs that literally sound like they came from a church band, especially the song that Will and Avery sing together in the woods. The musical choreography is especially obnoxious with how over the top and ridiculous it looks. It tries to be stylized, hip, and cool, but it ends up looking like a mass of bodies just flailing around doing cringy dance moves. It’s the definition of trying too hard and it makes for an uncomfortable experience that’s like a fever dream.
Frankly, I don’t even know why A Week Away tries to have Christian elements at all since it’s mainly your stock summer camp movie. All the familiar situations, camp activity set pieces, and corny as hell characters all reflect the usual summer camp movie antics that this film doesn’t want to embrace. Instead, it just tries to shove in religious talk and beliefs that it really doesn’t want to fully embrace either and makes the overall intention and vibe of the film totally confusing. The camp isn’t even really a bible camp even though all of the characters are randomly spouting things about the Bible or their faith and it’s really just a bargain bin summer camp. While I’m not super into movies that are centrally focused around promoting religion and showcasing “good” faith, it would be easier to have a little more respect for the film if it just stuck to its guns and leaned more into its religious aspects rather than be totally gun shy about everything.
A Week Away is a faith-based musical that’s a total mess and lacks a good sense of charm to balance out its overbearing religious text, obnoxious musical elements, and confusing tone.