Sleepover (2004) / Comedy-Romance

MPAA Rated: PG for sensuality and language
Running Time: 97 min.

Cast: Alexa Vega, Sean Faris, Mika Boorem, Jane Lynch, Sam Huntington, Kallie Flynn Childress, Jeff Garlin, Sara Paxton, Scout Taylor-Compton
Joe Nussbaum
Screenplay: Elisa Bell
Review published September 21, 2004

Sleepover falls under the category of innocuous teen movies that appeal almost exclusively to one demographic -- 10 to 15 year old girls.  There have been many such examples of these kinds of films in recent years, and this one makes no attempt to veer from the formula of all those that came before.  Toss in a cute girl trying to come of age, some not-too-sharp parents that just don't understand, some friends that will always be there to lend support, have a nemesis that threatens to spoil her happiness, and one cutie of the opposite sex that finally sees that she is becoming a woman.  Add a nonstop soundtrack, musical montages where the girls try on a wide array of different cute outfits, some cute sing along bonding, a bright color scheme, and enough smoochery to make sure icky boys cover their eyes throughout.  It's a complete product, neither good nor bad, merely existing to fill a niche for those that want mindless fluff without turbulence.

The plot just couldn't get more juvenile.  A quartet of girls just on the verge of attending their freshman year of high school have a slumber party at Julie's (Vega, Spy Kids) house.  They are harassed by some of the more popular girls at their school-to-be, and are challenged into a scavenger hunt for dibs on the good spot to eat lunch, while the losers get to eat next to the dumpsters where the less popular students sit.  In order to complete their tasks, the girls must do what they are forbidden to do -- leave the house -- which becomes a challenge when Julie's snooping mother begins to suspect they are up to foul play.  Julie catches the eye of the high school heartthrob, Steve (Faris), although circumstances never really permit them to get together for very long.

I suppose the best review I can give for a homogenized film this cookie cutter is that I didn't hate it.  It is (very) mildly amusing from time to time, and there is an energy to the story that keeps the action moving along, even though it is wholly predictable to those who have seen a good share of films.  However, this film is strictly for girls who might not have seen very many movies, and along those lines, it has just enough going for it to entertain in the shallowest of respects.

My only real complaint to this comedy comes from the directorial choices by first-timer Joe Nussbaum (director of the cult short film, "George Lucas in Love").  Granted, almost all teen films are going to have a barrage of pop tunes to listen to throughout, but this film has almost no background silence at any time, not letting our weary minds rest to enjoy any scenes for what they are.  Everything is well lit, from the streets at night, to the inside of the clubs, to the interiors of cars.  If you're susceptible to annoyance by unrealistic environs, frenetic paced comedy, or sitcom thin antics, Sleepover just might incite you to riot.

I'm giving Sleepover a mediocre rating, which is probably more than most critics would give for a movie this bubble gum, but I recognize that it isn't exactly a movie meant to appeal to me.  I wouldn't proclaim it a good film, even taking it on its own terms, as you could easily find similar fare on television without losing much in quality.  I only wish that producers of films for adolescents could at least have the nerve to try something new, instead of leaving every idea to marketing reports and formula testing.  For a film called Sleepover, it's ironic that there will probably be more sleeping done by adults in the audience than the kids did in the movie.

Qwipster's rating:

2004 Vince Leo