Parents' Guide to

American Teen

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Riveting documentary is bound to get kids talking.

Movie PG-13 2008 101 minutes
American Teen Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 1 parent review

age 14+

The real "Real World"

A frank look at what it's like to be a typical American teenager. Teens might find some of the technology outdated (it's the class of 2006 after all!), but their feelings, stresses, and relationships are timeless. Uncomfortable for parents to watch, which makes it all the more important. Stay for the credits to see updates on the cast. Well done.

This title has:

Great messages
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
1 person found this helpful.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1):
Kids say (2):

It's impossible to know how much influence the camera had on how the Warsaw teens acted, but the situations ring true, sometimes heartbreakingly so. Although Burstein gives each of her chosen few ample screen time, independent spirit Hannah Bailey is clearly favored. The daughter of a manic depressive, Hannah isn't popular, but she's far from a geek. She plays in a band, aspires to be a director, wears retro chic clothes and just glows, even when she sobs, on the screen. Watching as she endures two break ups (one via text message!) in the course of a year, it's no surprise why her story is the most interesting and well-rounded.

All of the other students also have fascinating stories to tell. Colin's father, an Elvis impersonator, can't afford college tuition, so if Colin can't secure a basketball scholarship, the Army is his only option. Varsity hottie Mitch loves hanging out with Hannah, but he can't seem to deal with her when he's around his snooty popular friends. Megan, the richest girl in town, is a stereotypical "Mean Girl," but the queen bee also has overwhelming pressure to succeed and a sad family history to overcome. Jake is so introverted that his only two concerns are playing video games and finding a kindred spirit to date. With only 101 minutes to depict a year's worth of tales, Burstein tends to dwell on the tragedies and triumphs -- from personal betrayals to college acceptances -- but that's completely understandable and makes for an entertaining and bittersweet account of life for contemporary teens.

Movie Details

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