Film Review : Myth of the American Sleepover
● By Justin Buettner
It is the last days of summer in a small Detroit suburb and the teenager population sends off summer with several sleepovers (or a party). The movie features several different teen characters as they pursue love interests in the same small town and all of them are completely clueless of how to act or react to the opposite sex. Will the love struck teens find a way to break their social and emotional barriers and become a couple?
This low budget teenage coming of age story does the impossible, it makes being a teenager feel utterly boring. The pacing, tone, and style by writer/director David Robert Mitchell is so inept and slow you begin to wonder if these awkward teens aren’t actually robots instead of living breathing humans. The only character in the film that emotes any energy is Maggie, a punk rock, pierced, jazz dancer that has feelings for not one but two boys. At least there is a youthful energy to her performance and this character takes risks. The rest of the teens talk in monotone dialects with long labored pauses. To spice up the dialogue the characters state the obvious and painfully say nothing of importance. Perhaps if the teenagers actually did something adventurous or interesting it could mask their bad acting and terrible dialogue, but unfortunately these kids do nothing of note.
The casting of Myth of the American Sleepover does set it apart. Every teenager looks like a teenager. They are gangly, awkward, have pimples and look the age of the parts they are playing. You won’t find any twenty-somethings trying to pass as teenagers in this movie. This definitely gives the film a raw realism that other polished Hollywood teenage movies never come close to. True none of these kids can act, but if a better story was used perhaps it could have helped mask the inexperience of the cast. To saddle these first time young actors with bad dialogue and a bad story was just too much for their raw charm to overcome.
The entertainment value of Myth of the American Sleepover is the equivalent to watching a stranger’s home movie where they set the camera down and forget to stop recording while they got something to eat and watch TV, in short nothing happens and it’s incredibly boring. There is nothing wrong with a slice of life styled motion picture as long as the film attempts to say something meaningful at the end of it all. At least have the kids act excited about what they are doing. After all they are sneaking out in the middle of the night with a bunch of their friends, at least have these kids crack a smile. Instead the teens act like they are in detention. Perhaps they knew this script was terrible too.
Outside of a very specific audience that really likes raw and unpolished independent films, the Myth of the American Sleepover will not hold anyone’s interest. Although this film will draw comparisons to great films like American Graffiti, the truth is Myth of the American Sleepover finds some way to strip all the excitement, thrill, fun, and energy from being a young and in love. It’s an amazing achievement but not an achievement worth watching.
Films like Myth of the American Sleepover : Superbad, Youth in Revolt, and Chumscrubber
Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.