American Teen Nanette Burstein

American Teen Nanette Burstein
There's nothing I could have wanted less as a teenager than a camera crew following my every move over a full school year but for five seniors in Warsaw, IN it was a welcome means to tell their story. Maybe it's a sign of today's obsession with YouTubing and "reality" as such an influential medium but there's something a little too cringe-worthy, at times, about American Teen's execution. Burstein and her crew couldn't have asked for five better specimens: the band geek (Geoff), the popular jock (Colin), the social princess (Megan), the art freak (Hannah) and the popular heartthrob (Mitch). The DVD cover boasts a reviewer's sensational comparisons to Napoleon Dynamite, Juno and The Breakfast Club, and it's hard to argue that the film doesn't find that perfect prescription of scandalous melodrama, awkward humour and predictable outcomes. Sure, when Megan spray paints a classmates house with the word "FAG" it's hard to argue she didn't choreograph that for the camera's sake but when we feel Hannah's devastating fear of returning to school following her break-up or witness Geoff's girlfriend cheating on him their tribulations hit close to home for most. It's this familiarity that makes American Teen such a refreshing experience despite the fact that I came out of it without much of a connection to any of the kids. "Pop Quiz" interviews the students two years later, where they vouch for the film's authenticity and explain that although most of them were strangers at the time they're now best friends. "Hannah Blogs" is a collection of vlogs where she spouts off about her lesbian-ish love for her dog and her crush on Ron Weasley from Harry Potter. The deleted scenes are best avoided, especially the lengthy kiss goodnight between Geoff and a girlfriend, which is impossible not to wince at in horror of how long it takes to get there. (Paramount Vantage)