Movies · News

Kristen Bell Will Lead the Musical ‘Fantasy Camp’

It’s taken Bell a few years, but she has found a follow-up to ‘Frozen.’
The Good Place Season
By  · Published on April 13th, 2018

It’s taken Bell a few years, but she has found a follow-up to ‘Frozen.’

When thinking of the kinds of movies that fall under the umbrella of “feel-good,” musicals come to mind immediately. Occasionally, something really intense like Les Miserables comes out of the woodwork, but other musicals are more than likely to just be a rollicking good time.

The inexplicable combination of breaking out into a musical number in the middle of a film takes the suspension of disbelief to a new level. There is, however, the category of movie musical that highlights and embraces the art of performing in a way that inspires self-love and confidence; one that incorporates song and dance into film plots more organically. I’m thinking specifically of films like the Pitch Perfect series, but now that they’ve had their last curtain call, there is room for another empowering musical comedy.

STXfilms may just have a contender in this regard. The Hollywood Reporter has announced that Kristen Bell will headline Fantasy Camp, a film that aims to allow grown-ups to indulge in their inner theater geek no matter what stage of life they’re at. Bell is set to play a failed junior high school drama teacher who goes back to her roots by attending a Broadway performing-arts camp for adults. Through this experience, she “faces her fears and pursues her dreams;” move over, Barden Bellas! 

Fantasy Camp doesn’t have a director yet. Sid Karger (Paper Airplane) penned the script and Greg Silverman (The Lego Movie Sequel) will produce the feature. STX and Bell have collaborated in the past to create two successful comedies. Bad Moms and its sequel, A Bad Moms Christmas, are admittedly rather generic ensemble comedies about mothers going wild (deservedly so, actually). Nevertheless, both films reaped great returns at the box office domestically and worldwide. Bad Moms was even the first STXfilms production to gross over $100 million in the United States. This in addition to the Fantasy Camp news could be the basis for a promising long-standing relationship between the studio and Bell.

Bell is also big enough to lead a film on her own, which kind of goes without saying. She has been a charming lead actress since the days of Veronica Mars, and her headstrong personality is very much apparent in many of her projects. To describe Bell as a leading lady would be to call her “aspirational,” for want of a better word. She has so much charisma that even at her worst, you can’t help but root for her and maybe want to be one of her characters. “Worst,” in this case, refers to the quality of whichever character she’s playing, not her acting.

Now’s a great time to reference The Good Place. It would be fair to note that the show has a more intriguing premise than it initially lets on even without its cast. However, toplining a series like that — wherein every other character has to be equally distinctive and there can be no weak links among the cast — takes plenty of skill.

Bell’s character on The Good Place is able to fit in both her existential crises and a healthy amount of inappropriate laughs in such short episodic time frames. Meanwhile, Fantasy Camp could feasibly tick some of those Good Place-esque boxes sans the setting of the afterlife, seeing as Bell’s character is apparently all about the challenge to better herself and confront some inner fears. The film will most probably not be in the same family of quirky humor as one of Michael Schur’s creations. But if Eleanor in The Good Place serves as any kind of blueprint for how Bell’s character in Fantasy Camp could be like, that is definitely a positive thing.

For now, it’s unclear if Bell will have an equally distinguished supporting cast in Fantasy Camp; to return to the Pitch Perfect comparison briefly, will there be a Rebel Wilson to Bell’s Anna Kendrick? Despite showing off her impressive singing abilities in Disney’s hit animated movie musical Frozen, Bell has also taken surprisingly long to find her next music-oriented project. Still, better late than never, and her casting is good enough to attract attention.

Related Topics:

Sheryl Oh often finds herself fascinated (and let's be real, a little obsessed) with actors and their onscreen accomplishments, developing Film School Rejects' Filmographies column as a passion project. She's not very good at Twitter but find her at @sherhorowitz anyway. (She/Her)