A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this drama about the last night of summer in a suburban Detroit town is fairly realistic in the way it portrays its teen characters. They swear ("f--k" and more), get drunk, smoke, and make out at the drop of a hat. But they have idealistic notions, too, that haven't yet been tarnished by hard-won cynicism. Expect kissing, groping, and sexual innuendo, and lots of underage drinking -- sometimes to the point of throwing up or passing out.
What's the story?
It's the last night of summer, and the teens in a suburban Detroit town are at various sleepovers for a last hurrah. Maggie (Claire Sloma) laments that she hasn't done anything adventurous yet and sets out to correct the situation, chasing one flirty boy with her friend, Beth (Annette DeNoyer), and surprisingly getting to know another. Rob (Marlon Morton) just saw the prettiest girl ever at the grocery store, and he's determined to find her before the night is out. Claudia (Amanda Bauer), who just moved to town and already has an older boyfriend, has been invited to a party girl's house; eager to widen her social circle, she agrees. And Scott (Brett Jacobsen), a college junior wallowing in self-pity after a painful break-up, chases his blues away by looking up two former, younger schoolmates who've just graduated.
Is it any good?
Rambling, interesting, and fairly insightful, THE MYTH OF THE AMERICAN SLEEPOVER captures the restlessness and yearning that beset almost every teenager, especially on their last night of freedom. Simply put, the feel is just right -- a feat considering how many movies about this particular age group are tone-deaf. There's sexual energy, but it's all over the place. There's thrill-seeking, in an oblivious, sometimes dangerous way. There's betrayal that seems so dramatic but, with distance and perspective, actually isn't.
For all of its suggestiveness and drinking, there's a certain nostalgia to the movie. The teens don't text (nor sext); they walk to their sleepovers, not drive; they play Ouiji boards instead of video games. Facebook is nowhere to be seen (neither is the Internet), and the soundtrack doesn't overwhelm. For the most part, it works, and charmingly, too. Yet a disconnect does set in as we watch clearly modern adolescents and young adults take stabs at adulthood in a tech vacuum. (Surely, Rob could have found his dream girl via Google?) It gets distracting, but thankfully, not too often.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether the movie offers a realistic view of teen life. Do you think the emotions and behavior on display here -- especially the drinking -- are accurate, or are they exaggerated for entertainment?
Why do stories about teens so often involve drinking? What role does alcohol play in teens' social lives? Is that always the case? Parents, talk to your teens about the real-life consequences of this stuff.
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