Hello, hello, it’s Burl reviewing on you again! I thought I’d give you the lowdown on one of these independently produced regional pictures today, one called The Myth of the American Sleepover! That’s a sort of a grand title for a picture like this, but I guess it’s as good as anything else! Maybe they could have called it Eagle Class or Journey to Frenchman’s Drop or Three Times That Night, but they didn’t!
I’m glad they put the word “myth” in the title, actually, because otherwise I’d have thought that hey, maybe it’s true that teenagers across America attend mass sleepovers on the last day of summer, that it was some sort of national tradition I’d never heard about up here north of the border! Ha ha! But I suspect the big sleepover theme is just meant as a dramatic device to get all our characters in the places and situations the writer-director wanted them in!
I won’t tell you the plot, because there isn’t one! It’s a picture very much in the tradition of American Graffiti and Dazed & Confused – so much so that it almost felt like one of those unofficial remakes, the same way Stoker felt like a remake of Shadow of a Doubt! It’s not a patch on those pictures, but I’ll say this right now: it’s not bad either!
It’s laid (as they used to say in Variety) in a Detroit suburb, and there are all sorts of different young folks preparing for various sleepovers at different houses! You get the blond girl with piercings, the young guy who talks a good game but in fact has never kissed a girl, the running girl who looks like a young Scarlett Johansson and ends up getting punched by another girl, and quite a few others! There’s also a satellite plot involving a college-age guy driving to a sleepover to talk to some twins!
That gives you some idea of what’s going on! It’s all pretty mellow, I must say – the punching I mentioned earlier is pretty much the single point of high drama! I don’t mind the mellowness, because I’m a mellow sort of guy myself, and also I understand the impulse behind it! After all, ha ha, I tried to make a similarly mellow picture once myself!
I must say, though, it’s hard to watch the movie and not think of those other, better movies it apes! As in American Graffiti, one of the plot threads has a young fellow chasing all night after a seemingly unattainable blonde! As in Dazed & Confused, there is a larger party in a communal area which pulls people away from the sleepovers, and the whole movie is woven with a sense of tribal ritual! None of this is necessarily bad, of course, but it does tend to undercut the movie’s own cinematic individuality while pulling you out of the situation and mood it’s working so hard to create!
It’s also one of those indie films in which everyone seems to have been heavily dosed with barbiturates! I’m not sure who decided this was some kind of shortcut to Grand Artistic Truth, but that style never really works for ol’ Burl! I did like that no one had cell phones or knew about the Internet – one of the guy sleepovers, for instance, has the fellows sitting around watching a horror movie containing boobs, just like my friends and I used to do! So there was plenty of good stuff in there, and I have to admit, I’m always game for a hangin’ around picture! I give The Myth of the American Sleepover two and a half scenes from Mothra!