Published Jul 01, 2004Perhaps it's because I can't remember what it's like to be 12 years old or maybe I'm out of touch with kids nowadays; either way, this movie is ridiculously audacious for us older folk to believe. We'd like to think that the lives of the tween demographic aren't so nauseously depthless. Who would have thought having the "it" seat at the High School lunch table was so damn important to a soon-to-be freshman. The Sleepover, if you will, is a stand-in for the pre-teen high jinx that surrounds two groups of rival minor-niner girls.
There's the cute and sweet informidable nice girls (Alexa Vega, Mika Boorem, Scout Taylor-Compton and Kallie Flynn Childress) and the always envied, Britney-lookalikes (Sara Paxton and three other forgettables). Writer Elisa Bell and director Joe Nussbaum clearly overlooked the fact that the teen genre has been done before and people just aren't going to be taken aback by young people throwing around some trying-to-be-clever dialogue. The cutesy white suburban girl whose biggest problem is getting the cute guy is a tad played, is it not? Sure, it's called Sleepover, but a more appropriate title could have been Schmaltzy.
So the plot - I use the term lightly - goes that on their last night of Junior High, the girls scheme up a scavenge hunt contest to determine which of their groups will be destined for geek-dome in the ninth grade. The choices are simple: lose the contest and spend ninth grade eating lunch at the loser table but win and you and friends will be catapulted into the pseudo-celebrity status (all incumbent high schoolers of course crave) with a seat at the ultra cool water fountain. Talk about a front row seat into the superficial lives of this generation. And, as an aside, why do American teen movies always portray fat kids as being the ones with self-esteem problems? Last time I checked - Mary Kate - every teen regardless of their "look" has problems. Sleepover is riffled with cliché after cliché after cliché. Is this what it means to be a pre-teen nowadays? Everything in this film appears staged (from the town itself to the parents to the friendships) and sure while one can appreciate the fact that it is geared towards a 12-year old girl viewer, when did that age get so incredibly one-dimensional and predictable? Sleepover is the exact sort of fluff that perpetuates the catty, status-driven character problems of many teen movies. (MGM)