‘Standing Ovation’ is likely to launch acting careers

Posted: July 15, 2010

"Standing Ovation" bills itself as a musical about and for tweens, the middle school version of "High School Musical."

I guess that leaves me out, though during the movie I found myself experiencing high-fructose flashbacks to an earlier era, to Saturday mornings in the thrall of the Monkees and Banana Splits, and under the influence of Cap'n Crunch.

The drenched-in-music and slightly bonkers "Ovation" has the manic energy of those old free-form TV shows, most of it supplied by an appealing cast of performers from Philadelphia and South Jersey.

It's about the Ovations, a group of blue-collar singing-dancing girls (Kayla Jackson, Alexis Biesiada, Na'jee Wilson, Pilar Martin, Kayla Raparelli, eventually Alanna Palumbo) competing against a girl group comprising rich snobs (London Clark, Erika Corvette, Ashley Cutrona, Devon Jordan, Jeana Zettler) in a million-dollar music video contest.

They can all sing, they can all dance, and they do a couple of hours of both in "Standing Ovation," which is full of fizz when the girls are on stage.

Efforts to connect the musical performances with conventional story and dialogue are less polished and effective, and personalities that shine on stage seem dampened a bit when the girls are merely acting.

Joei DeCarlo stands out as the tough girl who manages the Ovations, and she has some good scenes with Jackson, who's well-liked by the camera and who has an uncanny resemblance to Chloe Moretz of "Kick Ass" and "Diary of a Wimpy Kid."

Many of the cast members are coached by vocal teacher Sal Dupree, who provides comic relief in the movie, and has helped local kids latch on with network talent shows. "Standing Ovation" will have its work cut out for it at the viciously competitive box office, but the film may serve as a springboard for the eager and able talent on display.

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