Myth of The American Sleepover Film Review
By Kam Williams
Teen Anomie and Angst Aplenty in Anticlimactic End of Summer Saga
There's a thin line between making a Mumblecore and shooting a home movie, and in the case of The Myth of the American Sleepover it hard to discern exactly which you might be watching. Set in suburban Detroit, this aimless indulgence in teen anomie and angst strikes this critic as more improvised than scripted, although David Robert Mitchell, in his directorial debut, does take credit for the film's screenplay.
The character-cluttered coming-of-age adventure unfolds over the course of the last weekend of summer vacation, and features an ensemble cast of more adolescents than you probably care to keep track of. Introspective to a fault, each one has an urgent emotional agenda to address before the beginning of the new semester.
There's Maggie (Claire Sloma), a rebellious, high school freshman with nose and lip rings. She already sneaking beer, and ready to start smoking and to jump the bones of Cameron (Stephen Francis), a cute upperclassman she meets at the pool while hanging out with her homely BFF, Beth (Annette DeNoyer).
Then we have creepy college man Scott (Brett Jacobsen). He tries to talk a pair of considerably-younger, identical twins, Anna (Jade Ramsey) and Ady Abbey (Nikita Ramsey), into a ménage-a-trois after being dumped by his girlfriend. Meanwhile, over at a girls' slumber party, we find transfer student Claudia (Amanda Bauer), a newcomer to town who unwittingly gets caught kissing the hostess' boyfriend in the basement. And Rob (Marlon Morton), a cool dude in a loose mood, sets off on a relentless search for the blonde he spotted across the aisle in the supermarket.
While I'm willing to give director Mitchell an A for effort for his ambitiously-plotted production, I still can't give him a Mulligan when the storylines uniformly prove so eerily uneventful. For, despite the fact that all the kids appear desperate to make the most of their last hours of freedom prior to returning to the stifling confines of the classroom, precious little ultimately transpires that would qualify as carnality.
I thought movies were supposed to be like real life except with all the boring parts edited out? This flick looks more like the reverse. A talky, tortoise-paced teensploit which teases far more than it titillates.
Fair (1 star)
Running time: 96 minutes
Studio: Sundance Selects/IFC Films
Kam Williams is a syndicated film and book critic who writes for 100+ publications. He is a member of the New York Film Critics Online, the African-American Film Critics Association, and the NAACP Image Awards Nominating Committee. Contact him through NewsBlaze.
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