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Movie Info


PG for thematic elements involving teen dating, some sensuality and language (see note at bottom of the review)


July 9, 2004


1 hr., 30 min.




Alexa Vega, Mika Boorem, Kallie Flynn Childress, Scout Taylor-Compton, Sam Huntington


Joe Nussbaum


Elisa Bell


Bob Cooper, Charles Weinstock




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By Phil Boatwright
The Movie Reporter - In the summer before their freshman high school year, four girls have a slumber party during which they attempt to shed their less-than-cool reputations.

Challenged to a scavenger hunt by their "popular" rivals, our heroines sneak into a nightclub, hijack a parent's car, seek their first kiss, and begin to learn more about themselves. An unexpected delight, "Sleepover" should be fun for not only preteen girls, but also parents who tag along.

Though the 14-year-old lead tells a few fibs and gets caught up with the fears of high school social status, she and her fellow 9th-graders are the antithesis of the young protagonists of "Thirteen." True, the main character gives her over-protective mother the usual eye-rolling attitude (an outward reflection of the metamorphosis known as female teenhood), but she possesses a sweetness and concern for others that is no doubt a reflection of how she has been raised.

When, for instance, the mean girl of the story belittles a classmate for being overweight, Julie (Alexa Vega from the "Spy Kids" trilogy) immediately embraces the wounded girl into her group, signifying her disdain for injustice and clearly judging others more for what's inside a person than the outside.

Director Joe Nussbaum (making his feature debut) and writer Elisa Bell ("Vegas Vacation," "Thirty Wishes") keep things lively. With wit and affection, the filmmakers address the subject of fitting in, but, more importantly, they pass along a message to teen girls that spunk and personality should never take a backseat to physical appearance. That said, the film never becomes preachy. Wisely borrowing heart and humor from films such as "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and "Sixteen Candles," they choose to entertain first, teach second.

Now, this story is about teen girls and aimed at preteen girls, so adult characters are reduced to the same clichés as in a thousand other adolescent screen adventures. However, the humor targeted at buffoonish grownups is never really mean spirited. What's more, the mother rises above the stereotype to be realized as a smart, cool and caring parent. Sorry guys, the father figure doesn't fare as well. Although loving, he's a bit of a moron.

The young cast is bright, attractive, and talented, portraying nice people who just want to be accepted. Paying tribute to the suburban rite of teen slumber parties, cast and crew bring together a satisfying outing for the whole family.

Note: A couple of minor expletives, but I caught no harsh or profane language; the "cool" girls hold up thong panties, implying that's what they wear; while in a bar, an underage girl orders a drink with a distinctly sexual title, but she is given a ginger ale - she's not there to drink alcohol, but to fulfill the obligations of the treasure hunt; the girls tell fibs and sneak out; a visual grosses out the girls when they see the lead's dad bending down, working under the sink, his pants not quite fitting; one flatulence gag when a dog eats too much pizza - it brought the biggest laugh from the screening's mostly juvenile audience; the girls get a date off the internet - and while they make a point that it is a safe Web site, still the practice of hooking up with someone from the internet is not a good message; a girl sneaks into a boy's house to get his boxer shorts for the scavenger hunt - she sees him from behind - her eyes wide - as he disrobes; while you may think some of this content is objectionable, the overall mood is sweet-spirited, lacking the usual amounts of crudity aimed at a young audience, and the messages in the film are mostly positive, with the lead girls learning respect and helping little girls in the theater realize that that they are not alone with insecurities and fears of life's unknowns.

Phil Boatwright is the editor of The Movie Reporter. For more information, visit Review used by permission.

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