Rusty Wright: ‘A Week Away’ Movie Review

As a teen, did you struggle to find your place in a complicated world?  Could you ever be “good enough” or express your true feelings to one whose smile you desired?  Has a personal tragedy made you question divine existence or goodness or power?  Do those feelings still linger?  If so, A Week Away could help you sort them out.

This fun, high-energy, family-friendly musical film about teen discovery can connect with young and old.  It’s fast-paced, artfully-scripted entertainment with a message.   Debuts March 26 on Netflix.

This movie surprised me.  Since my audiences are mostly university level and older, a high school film seemed not my best fit.  But the characters were genuine, their problems universal, and the life lessons timeless.  It evoked lots of teen memories.  Fun music, singing and humor drove the storyline home.  High School Musical meets Psychology Today.

Detention or summer camp?

Will Hawkins, an orphaned teen delinquent, should be detained for his latest crime.  His social services supervisor instead assigns a week at summer camp.  At camp – green forests, shimmering lake – Will (who is white) refers to his new friend George (a Black) as his cousin.  George likes Presley, but fears telling her.  Will likes Avery, the camp director’s daughter, but conceals his true background.  He’s learned he’s at a Christian camp and wrestles with fitting in.

Woven into camp life’s cool fun and games are struggles with self-image, self-discovery and desire.  The kids’ faith and genuine love attract Will.  Since his parents’ tragic death, he’s wondered how God could ever care.

Avery cites a Jewish prophet on hope:  “For I know the plans I have for you…. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

Managing emotions

The camaraderie inspires Will, but his deceit erects barriers.  As he learns to manage powerful emotions and navigate relational complexities, he sets an instructive model.

I could have used these lessons earlier in life.

In my eighth grade (age 13) class was the most beautiful young woman I had ever seen.  I had the world’s biggest crush.  I was also very shy, and never told her how I felt.  I rarely spoke to her, except to say “Hi.”

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SOURCE: Assist News Service