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.