The Myth of the American Sleepover (2010)

Comedy, Drama
Claire Sloma, Marlon Morton, Amanda Bauer, Brett Jacobsen
Four young people navigate the suburban wonderland of metro-Detroit looking for love and adventure on the last weekend of summer.
  • IFC Films Company:
  • NOT RATED Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 07 Apr 2011 Released:
  • 28 Feb 2012 DVD Release:
  • $39.0k Box office:

Trailer:

Very Authentic and moving portrayal7/10
The coming of age story is a staple genre in film that seems to come and go with the times. The mid to late 1990's had "American Pie" and other such imitators, along with a revival of the teen horror movie. "Myth of the America Sleepover" is an independent drama that won a Special Jury Award at the 2010 South by Southwest Film Festival for Best Ensemble cast. The cast is populated with mostly real teens and non actors, giving it a very real and authentic look.

Set in the early 1990's in a middle class Midwestern town, this film looks like it could be an autobiographical account of director David Robert Mitchell's formative years. The story meanders through the lives of several teens on the last days of summer vacation. Everybody is searching for something in one way or another. Looking for adventure, a girl seen in the grocery store and for new friends. Mitchell's film is not exploitive of its characters and rarely resorts to cheap stereotypes. Although minorities are pretty much absent, we are given the usual token black person. This being said the authenticity of the film is quite impressive and similar to what I experienced myself.

This movie, unlike most, treats its characters like real people living real lives. The thoughts, anxieties and pressures are all there. This is a time before the internet and cell phones when everything was more personal and "real". But no matter what generation you grew up in there are still basic fundamentals of growing up that are universal. "Myth of the American Sleepover" is available on demand from Comcast and as always check it out!
an honest and affirmative coming of age film7/10
a poignant and fresh take on this iconic, typically American experience. This low budget independent coming of age comedy from writer/director David Robert Mitchell explores the usual themes of teen angst, friendship, sex, and the search for love. Set in Detroit on the last weekend of the summer holidays before the kids return to school, the film draws upon Mitchell's own memories of his adolescence. There are a number of sleepovers, slumber parties and pool parties happening. The film follows four teens – Rob, Scott, Maggie and Claudia - as they hang out, talk about their fears and insecurities, crushes, and look for that elusive first kiss. However, unlike most comedies aimed at an adolescent audience this low-key film eschews the usual cheap scatological and puerile humour, opting for a more in depth exploration of their concerns. Mitchell demonstrates a strong understanding of adolescent emotions and desires that brings credibility to the material, and it reeks with a strong sense of nostalgia. Mitchell maintains a deceptively meandering pace as he juggles the multiple narrative strands and moves seamlessly between the various characters. The dialogue rings true, and Mitchell teases natural performances from his unknown ensemble cast. The Myth Of The American Sleepover is an honest and affirmative coming of age film that resonates.
Pleasantly surprised7/10
Various teenagers go to various parties, each longing to make the last night before school starts up again memorable in the slice of life drama. Those who are expecting American Pie type shenanigans to follow are best to look elsewhere as this film has more realistic, and dare I say, more noble goals in mind.

Almost every Tuesday Instant Netflix has at least one film streaming on same day as released on DVD, this week it's three films (this one, Wolf Town, and Beneath the Darkness) and while I can't vouch for the other 2 as I still have yet to watch them, I can give my enthusiastic thumbs up for this one. I found the film to ring true of the teenage experience of the average American teenager. The pathos, the awkwardness, the long & uncertainties are all on display. And frequently well-acted to boot. Writer/director David Mitchell is one to be on the lookout for if he continues to put out films of this caliber.

My Grade: B+
Hit enough of its marks to be insightful and fun7/10
I admit that I'm a fan of school-age romantic comedies. I enjoyed this movie because a lot of the scenes rang true to my experiences at that age (except for the warehouse scenes -- hello creepy). I can remember putting my hand next to a girl's hand -- almost touching -- just to see if she'd go the last half inch. I can remember trying to get a do-over with a girl that I'd let slip away during high school. I can remember walking the streets of my town hoping to run into a pretty girl that I'd seen. I can remember picking the wrong girl because society told me she was cooler. And I can remember trying to catch lightening in a bottle on the last weekend before school starts. For some reason, this movie has slid entirely under the radar, but it deserves attention.
The myth of the American teenager6/10
The Myth of the American Sleepover plays like a toned-down, more modest version of Superbad. The parties are lighter, but are they more realistic? The language is softer, but is that reality? And the script is more controlled, but is it more fun to listen to? The main problem with the film is in the screenplay, which is slow, overly patient, and sometimes wholly vacant. There's something going on in films today that is beginning to aggravate me. It's the awkward silences. Being around the age of the teenagers in this film, I can safely say we don't talk like this, with long, abrupt pauses following every line. This was actually my main complaint in Terri, another dark coming of age film. The film would've been great if it would've replaced its pauses with some nice dialog to further develop the characters.

A film can't talk for the entire time, therefore, musical montages and sometimes long stretches of silence do take place. The only difference is, more often than not, they aren't continuous throughout the whole film. Just when The Myth of the American Sleepover starts to get interesting, it is plagued by a long, directionless silence.

Aside from that sidestep, the rest of the film is actually quite wholesome, surprising, and somewhat sweet in its poignant form. It depicts a wide variety of teenagers who are attending a sleepover, a house party, or a pool party during their final week on summer break. I love and hate movies like this. Love them because it lays the groundwork for a great anthology, and hate them because it makes for a challenging review. I've decided I won't go into any stories or characters to leave the experience as fresh as possible. All I will say is that some of these unknowns may possibly drift into wonderful character actors before they know it.

For an independent film, it has some very impressive, sunny cinematography. That seems like the least of ones concerns when watching a coming of age drama, but the cinematography here must be commended. The film always looks wonderful. It goes from warm, joyous, and simple with its pallet of vibrant colors, to cold, dreary, and a pessimistic tone with its darker pallet as time goes on. I'm not sure one has ever payed so close attention to photography in a comedy-drama.

Alas, what kills the film is just its inability to establish worthy or witty dialog. It's dark, yes, but even the darkest of comedies have their moments of wit and passion. The Myth of the American Sleepover doesn't, and that's disappointing. The film's message basically tells us the teen life isn't like Superbad or an Apatow comedy, which we're fully aware of. But it isn't as murky or as mundane as this presents it. It seems one of the few films to effectively blend realism with humor and believable characterization was The Breakfast Club. That had a lot of silence in the beginning, but it was fitting because these characters were just as foreign to each other as we were to them. By the end, they had talked up a storm with each other. While Myth is somewhat humanistic and poignant, it's also slow and for the wrong reason.

Starring: Claire Sloma, Marlon Morton, Amanda Bauer, Brett Jacobsen, Nikita Ramsey, Jade Ramsey, and Amy Seimetz. Directed by: David Robert Mitchell.