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The Essential Guide to Bristol
25 July 2009
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Sleepover (PG)

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The ViewBristol Review

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Review byMatthew Turner13/12/2004

One out of Five stars
Running time: 97 mins

Poorly directed, badly scripted comedy that’s desperately low on laughs, despite the best efforts of its two leads. Sleepover? You’re more likely to sleep through it.

Director Joe Nussbaum achieved a certain notoriety in Hollywood a few years ago when he wrote and directed a short film called George Lucas In Love, a parody of Shakespeare In Love using the Star Wars films. That film went on to become one of the most successful short films of all time, so it’s no surprise that Nussbaum was duly snapped up for a directorial career. It’s a shame then, that his first feature is completely devoid of the same levels of wit and invention that he brought to his short film.

Awful Terrible Plot

Alexa Vega (from Spy Kids) plays Julie, a 14 year old girl who organises a sleepover with her three best friends (Mika Boorem, Scout Taylor Compton and Kallie Flynn Childress) in order to celebrate the last day of junior high school.

Keen to ditch their less-than-cool reputations, they accept a challenge from the most popular girls in school: an all-night scavenger hunt, with tasks such as stealing a cute boy’s boxer shorts and sneaking into a nightclub. The prize? The coveted “cool lunch spot” at school, with the losers having to dine by the dumpster all year. (Are you asleep yet?).

The script is so bad that you wonder whether it was actually written by a group of 14 year old girls. The characters are neither witty nor particularly engaging and occasionally they’re downright slappable, such as when Mika Boorem’s Hannah encourages Kallie Flynn Childress’s slightly chubby Yancy to find a boyfriend the same size as her. The problem is that we simply don’t care whether they complete their mission or not, partly because there’s so little at stake but also because the popular girls aren’t mean enough.

The comedy sequences don’t work either, despite the presence of talented comic actors like Steve Carell (from Anchorman) and Jeff Garlin (from Curb Your Enthusiasm), who’s comfortably the funniest thing in the film as Julie’s DIY-obsessed dad, though that’s not saying much.

Other than that, there’s only one good gag: Julie’s brother and his friends dressing as girls and dancing in order to fool her dad into believing she’s still in her room. And when that’s your best gag, you’re in trouble.

Horrible Gag Misjudgment

In addition, some of the supposedly amusing scenes are horribly misjudged, such as when Julie has to chat up her nerdy teacher in a bar and he seems a little too pleased when he realises it’s her. (The girls then give him a make-over, which gives you some idea of the level of awfulness involved).

Alexa Vega and Mika Boorem (Hearts In Atlantis, Blue Crush) have proven elsewhere that they are both excellent actresses, but their talents are sadly wasted here. Here’s hoping that both they and director Nussbaum have better luck choosing projects in future.

In short, Sleepover is an insult to the intelligence of the average 14 year old – it’s boring, badly written and arguably patronising. Rent some John Hughes movies instead.

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Sleepover (PG)
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