James Laxton
Owen Gleiberman
July 21, 2011 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Myth of The American Sleepover

Current Status
In Season
96 minutes
Limited Release Date
Claire Sloma
David Robert Mitchell
David Robert Mitchell
Comedy, Drama

We gave it a B-

The Myth of the American Sleepover is an all-night-long, end-of-the-summer high school drama with a difference: Almost every scene in it is quiet. Shooting in a small Michigan town, writer-director David Robert Mitchell is out to capture the gentle, loping rhythms of two friends pedaling bikes at twilight, or of a slumber party where the inviting is a bigger event than the sleepover. Mitchell has an ? ear for the tentativeness of adolescence, the way that everyone is trying on postures, attitudes, selves. In this Midwestern ramble, the kids dress down, but their most intimate confessions are fashion statements: How does this sentiment sound on me?

Yet there’s a downside to making a movie that’s all slivers, anecdotes, and random wispy encounters. Mitchell, much like his characters, fetishizes his own sensitivity. The Myth of the American Sleepover has fresh, lovely moments, but it could have used more psychological heft. The unknown actors in the cast come off as authentic teenagers, but not a lot of them really pop. One exception: Claire Sloma, who’s like a Kewpie-doll Molly Ringwald. When she does an impromptu retro poolside dance, her perky audacity puts the rest of the film on hold, making it almost a bummer when it gets going again. B? (Also available on demand)

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