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STUDIO: MPI Home Video
RUNNING TIME: 96 minutes
• Trailer (that’s it?!?!)
A strikingly honest, non-quirky examination of the suburban teenage libido (ie: everyone’s wicked horny).
Written and directed by David Robert Mitchell, starring Claire Sloma, Marlon Morton, Brett Jacobson, Amanda Bauer, and a whole heap of other young newcomers.
On the last night of summer before a new school year begins, a group of youths gamble for love, lust, and lost opportunities.
One of the biggest problems with coming-of-age films is that the cast is usually made up of actors in their mid-20s. Right from the start you’re forced to suspend your disbelief – and that sucks. For his The Myth of the American Sleepover ensemble, writer/director David Robert Mitchell went with a cast of unknowns who are actually the age of the kids they’re playing. What a concept! This instantly makes the film feel more honest – as does every other choice made by Mitchell. He understands that when you’re a kid (especially a high school kid) there really are never any all-or-nothing grasps for love. The kind of moments John Hughes did so well, you know? More than anything, young love – or in the case of Sleepover, young “like” – is confusing as hell. Mitchell delves deep into the teen drama genre and tactfully deconstructs it.
The Myth of the American Sleepover takes place in a Michigan suburb on the night before school is starting up again. The film follows several teenagers whose stories interweave as they all seek out romance and quiet moments with the ones they long for. Jazz dancer Maggie (Claire Soma) bikes the neighborhood with her quiet, bespectacled pal. They cruise to a couple different parties in search of the hunky community pool employee who Maggie may or may not like. Rob (Marlon Morton) tirelessly combs the streets and parties looking for a girl he saw at a grocery store earlier that day. Rob is definitely a Jr. Stalker, he honestly gave me the willies. At some slutty girl’s sleepover, Claudia (Amanda Bauer) has her heart stomped on when she secretly reads the host’s diary, finding some dirt on her own boyfriend. Rounding out the crew is high school graduate Scott (Brett Jacobson). He’s on the prowl for a pair of twins who are off to college. One of them may have a crush on him. He’s not sure which.
Other than those initial bits of exposition, Sleepover keeps its plot very loose. There are some genuinely tense moments – ones that almost every kid experiences in their adolescence. Those times when a guy and girl are sitting close, each person just waiting for the other to make the first move. Mitchell allows his camera to suspend over these moments of pure suspense. Just like in real life, sometimes those moments don’t end the way we’d like them to and you find yourself drunk, sitting in a canoe in the middle of a downpour. Ahh to be a kid again.
In between all of the tension is an endless stream of awkward conversations and glances. Mitchell favors very brief lines of dialogue rather than lengthy admissions of love, which works because honestly what 16-year-old has the stones to really say how they feel to the opposite sex? The cast of newcomers work very well in the realm of expressionistic eye-fucking, especially Claire Soma as Maggie. That girl is dangerous. As the misguided twin-hunter Scott, Brett Jacobson (the elder of the cast) is proof positive that when you get older, romantic feelings don’t get any easier. Great things can be said about the entire cast. They’re all fantastic.
The Myth of the American Sleepover, which is Mitchell’s first feature, is a strikingly honest coming-of-age movie that quietly examines the minutia of young romance, with all of it’s obtuse emotions and clashing loyalties. See it with someone you love and awkwardly stare at them the whole time.
The only special feature is a trailer. This just seems like a bad joke. For such a well-crafted debut film, this at least deserves insightful commentary. The criminal lack of special features is what makes this DVD a rental, not a buy.
Rating: Out of a Possible 5 Stars
Out of a Possible 5 Stars