The teenage saga of every person is one filled with these basic elements: love, loss, friendship, and all those awkward moments in-between.
Most teenage dramas in the past have had teenagers portrayed by actors twice their character’s age with the lines being poetic one-liners which barely any normal teenager would ever use in an everyday situation.
In all the sea of teenage films there are a few exceptions to the guidelines set by film makers like John Hughes (“Sixteen Candles,” “Breakfast Club”) and Randal Kleiser (“Grease”).
David Robert Mitchell’s “The Myth of an American Sleepover” avoids the pitfalls of teenage dramas and truly displays what being a teenager in today’s world really means.
Filled with Americana settings and the middle-class lifestyle, “The Myth of the American Sleepover” displays four subplots all occurring (and sometimes conjoining) on the famous last day of summer vacation.
The story plots all have to do with one basic element: the quest for confusing love in a more confusing and awkward teenage world.
From abandoned factories to empty college dorms, this movie has characters living all over Detroit.
Despite being set in current Middle America, the teenagers stay away from current electronic media.
There seem to be no mentioning of iPods, video games, or even current television. The middle-class experience is summed up in bikes, beer, and adventure.
The first movie plot focuses on Maggie (Clair Sloma) and her quest to look for her dream pool boy, or anyone like him.
After a day at the pool and a dance class, the pierced incoming high school freshman ventures from party to sleepover in search of her dream pool boy.
In the middle of her search she is confronted with drunken boys and the need to feel a sense of fun.
The second movie plot focuses on another incoming freshman, Rob Salvati (Marlon Mortin). His search for love can be summed up as “this is pointless to anyone but yourself.” The controller of his heart strings is a nameless girl he saw at the supermarket. Like any lovestruck teenage boy he only focuses on her rather than her sister’s friend on whom he apparently had a crush, and who currently has a crush on him. After attending his friend’s sleepover and being pummeled by a catapulted egg he goes alone on his search for his supermarket girl only to find out she is not who she seemed to be in his eyes.
The third subplot bounds over an age group but not over the awkwardness. Incoming junior Claudia (Amanda Bauer) is invited to a sleepover after meeting the host at a running event. She quickly realizes the girl who invited her did so only out of a mix of pity for being the new girl and pity for dating a guy whom she had a fling with while they were dating. After realizing her boyfriend cheated on her with her host she begins plotting revenge against her betrayers by kissing a guy she hardly knows.
The final subplot jumps over another age group to a college student who is not sure if he wants to go back to college after a breakup.
Scott Holand (Brett Jacobsen) is a college student still shadowed by high school regret, not making a move on the hot twins in his class. Beset with an idea of seeing the twins after reading a quote left by them in his year book (and stealing a photo from the high school drama club memoir board) he sets off in search of his missed opportunity.
He drives over to their college upstate and tries to subtly make a move on either of them without them realizing he likes the two girls at the same time and with equal infatuation.
In all, the four subplots went in and out of each other’s actions in either subtle ways or truly obvious ones. They did not, however, influence each other to a major extent. The four were equally balanced in time, drama, and importance to the film.
The plots all captured the emotion of regret and satisfaction: regret because the characters did or did not get what they wanted and it went against them, satisfaction from the events they all went through in order to learn from them.
It is hard to think of anything bad about the film. It is one of those teenage films that truly stems from reality and has a lack of fakeness. There were not a lot of cheesy love scenes, there was no essence of sudden life-changing experiences, it was just a true incarnation of the teenage experience- those happy, sad, and awkward years which define a person’s character.
The Putnam theatre will be showing the film Sunday through Thursday at 7 p.m. only and will have Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.
Ryan Loredo can be contactewd at firstname.lastname@example.org