A compelling, albeit far too long a glimpse into the lives of jocks, princesses, rebels and geeks.
Russo Rating: 6/10
“Simple but effective…. packed with action”
Pimples galore, “American Teen” offers more pepperoni faced students then you’re local pizza parlor could ever dream of. The documentary that took Sundance by storm, “American Teen” offers a compelling, albeit far too long a glimpse into the lives of jocks, princesses, rebels and geeks.
Welcome to a small Indiana High School, where sports dominate and cliques are a way of life. NYU veteran Director Nanette Burstein blends reality television with a documentary style in hopes of finding some inner truth behind the lives of five students from opposite ends of the spectrum. American Teen explores teen pressures from college, scholarships and relationships as these five young adults try to discover themselves over the course of their senior year.
While “American Teen” promises to be as captivating as “Breakfast Club” and “Juno”, the film meanders far too much and seemingly arrives at conclusions long after the viewer does. However the teens Burstein has targeted are quite engaging. Each has an intriguing, and sometimes-heartbreaking plight, that helps viewers relate to the pangs of high school misery. Sadly though, the filmâ€™s running time undermines these emotions, causing the viewer to lose interest by the time prom season rolls around in the narrative timeline.
While the theatrical run only targeted the documentary and art house crowds, home video will likely open up the picture to viewers the same age as the subjects. Unfortunately, with the connection audiences are likely to make with these American teens, the DVD offers no follow up as to where the principle players are now. This missed opportunity for additional content will likely disappoint audiences who caught the film last summer, as the doc itself doesn’t offer much in the way of replay value. A teen classic it is not, but “American Teen” might be worth a look if you’re dying to relive the horrible angst and pain of high school