Dir: Nanette Burstein (The Kid Stays in the Picture, On the Ropes)
Seen: August 10, 2008 at the AMC Yonge & Dundas
Reason to see: Compelling preview
American Teen was promoted that it showcased the senior year of high school through the eyes of 5 stereotypical teens: The Rebel, The Princess, The Geek, The Jock and The Heartthrob. This felt like it was a brilliant idea and I was looking forward to what goes on in high school today. The stories of the teens and the teens themselves are compelling as they went through various different relate-able high school experiences. But, I found that the film didn't flow in the way I would have expected and although it was clear that it went from the beginning of the year to the end of the school year, it was not easy to tell how far along in the year they were at different stages of the film. Perhaps this is more clear to people whom have gone through the US school system, but as an outsider it felt a little random. I also found that just when getting immersed in the story of one of the teens, the focus would switch to another. There were strong moments of real honesty as well as showing some of the horrible things people will do. It also focused strongly on 4 of the teens as opposed to 5 and didn't overly lend itself it The Breakfast Club formula that the trailer portrays. However, I did enjoy the stories of The Rebel and The Geek enough to make the film well worth watching.
I was expecting the film to take the perfect opportunity to be zeitgeist of our times but ultimately its reinforces that high school is it's own zeitgeist regardless of if the is time period now or ten or fifty years ago. As long as there are sports, there will be jocks. As long as there is inacceptance, there will be people on the fringes. The pressures and worries are the same even if the outfits and technology are different.
Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it
I'd watch it again
I'd recommend it for those who like films based on the teen experience
15 minutes of preshow including 3 commercial and 5 previews: Hamlet 2, Religulous, The Duchess, Tropic Thunder and Eagle Eye
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© Shannon Ridler, 2008