Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Sleepover

posted by rkumar
D
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Profanity:None
Nudity/Sex:Kiss, references to "hooking up," mild sexual situations
Alcohol/Drugs:Teens sneak into club, 14-year-old orders "Sex on the Beach" at the bar but is carded and gets soda instead
Violence/Scariness:Mild tension and peril
Diversity Issues:All characters white, theme of discrimination against overweight girl
Movie Release Date:2004

Fourteen-year-old girls at a sleepover party violate every rule they agreed to. They lie, cheat, vandalize, steal, sneak out of the house and into a bar, order a drink with a man they met on the internet, and sneak into a high school dance by telling the girl taking tickets she has to let them in so they don’t turn into a lonely loser like her. This is not a sequel to last year’s searing thirteen. No, this is supposed to be a touching and light-hearted comedy and these girls are its heroines.

Aiming somewhere between Sixteen Candles and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, this is the story of Julie (Alexa Vega of Spy Kids) and three friends who participate in a scavenger hunt with a significant prize — the favored “power” lunch spot for the whole school year. The losers have to sit by the dump.

Julie and her friends accept the challenge. They have to get a man they meet on the internet to buy them a drink, put their clothes on the mannequins in the Old Navy store window, and steal a security guard’s car decal and the boxers of the boy of Julie’s dreams. Even though Julie promised not to leave the house, she and her friends sneak out, leaving her college drop-out brother to cover for her. At the club, it turns out that the internet mystery date who thinks Julie is a grown-up and a swimsuit model is none other than the girls’ nerdy teacher. Ewww.

Once that gets sorted out and the girls have given him a makeover so that he can pick up a hot chick (ewww again), they are off to finish off the list. This has them climbing on a roof, running away from a security guard and locking him up, hiding in a shower stall while a boy takes off all his clothes and then stealing his boxers, and driving without either permission or license. They cause a lot of damage for which they take no responsibility. And while the movie pits the nice girls against the mean girls, by the end of the movie it is hard to tell them apart.

Vega and the other girls are appealing performers, especially Mikka Boorem as Julie’s best friend and Jessica Simpson-lookalike Sara Paxton as the snooty Mean Girl Stacie. The “why can’t you understand I’m growing up” and “how can I survive if my best friend moves away?” and even the white-out toenail polish elements of the plot will ring familiar with the intended audience, but they may be a little befuddled by seeing the girls dance to a Spice Girls song that was last popular when the girls in the movie were in second grade.

The movie’s irresponsible portrayal of extremely risky and destructive behavior and its distorted notion of grrrl power make it truly disturbing. The exaggerated hijinks are merely unfortunate. But the attempt to portray the girls as smart, caring, and loyal when they mindlessly buy into the mean girls’ game and standards catapults to the movie from unfortunate to reprehensible.

Parents should know that this movie is filled with the kind of parental concerns that are not factored into the MPAA’s rating system and they should think carefully about the film’s appropriateness for its intended age group. As noted above, the main characters sneak out of the house after promising not to. They make a date with a man they met on the internet with the plan of getting him to buy one of them a drink. Boys sneak into Julie’s house and steal underwear. Julie dresses up to look older and they sneak into a club that serves liquor. She orders a drink called “Sex on the Beach.” She hides in a shower and watches the boy she likes undress (from the rear, nudity offscreen) and then she steals the boxer shorts he has just removed. They vandalize store window mannequins and mistreat a security guard, damaging his car and locking him in the store window. One of the girls loses a boyfriend by refusing to “hook up” with him (apparently she bragged to her friends that she had, however). Characters make an overweight girl feel bad about herself (some intentionally, one unintentionally), but despite some half-hearted attempts to suggest otherwise, the girls too often evaluate themselves by whether they are well-regarded by boys. Girls drive without licenses and in one case without permission. Many characters lie, including Julie’s father, who lies to her mother when he causes damage to the ceiling. There is also some bathroom humor and intrusive product placement.

Families who see this movie should talk about why the lunch table location was so important, why Julie and her friends let the other girls determine what the tests would be, and whether Julie will tell her mother the truth about what happened. They should talk about why Julie and Stacie stopped being friends and what parents and young teenagers can do to get used to the idea that kids are growing up. How did the events of the evening make Ren feel differently about returning to college?

Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy the better Snow Day and The Babysitter’s Club.



  • shan

    i disagree completely with this review. this is a great movie about friendship and young girls having fun, and this review blows everything out of proportion. i love this movie. the parents don’t lie to each other, the father just accidentally makes a tiny hole in the ceiling while fixing the sink, and then fixes the hole. the girl who drives has permission, has her junior liscene and has had driving training. the teacher is not a crazy pedifile, he is an awkward man, who thought he was meeting someone his age. he is angry at the girls when he recognizes them because he is worried about their safety. this is a great movie, maybe the girls break a few rules, but they feel bad, confess and apologize.

  • Melissa Stevens

    I am a parent, who is usually quit strict, dare i admit it, and am careful of what my children watch. i saw this with my twelve year old and fourteen year old, and i thought it was lovely. it reminded me of myself and my friends when we were girls. Sure, maybe the girls aren’t saints, but they don’t really do much wrong. I think they do a lot right.they include the bigger girl who isn’t very popular, they confess to their “crimes”, they publicly admit that they don’t approve of hooking up at their age,and that they themselves don’t hook up, the girl who orders the sex on the beach doesn’t know at first that it is a drink, showing that she doesn’t drink, and is scandalized by the name of it,aren’t rude or disrespectful to adults and they don’t swear. much better than most hollywood movies. they also don’t cheat or steal, like the review said. if, based on the review you deemed this movie innapropriate, then think i suggest you read another review and think again. this movie could be g. i personally actually enjoyed this movie and think it is good for the family. it should have gotten atleast a B.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Good timing — these two comments came in just as I was responding to a newspaper’s request for the worst family movies of the past few years and was writing about this one again. I appreciate your comments, Shan and Melissa, and am glad to have a different point of view for the parents who come to this site looking for guidance, but I still find the movie appalling. I understand the concept of exaggerated hi-jinks, and if this was just some modern version of “I Love Lucy” I’d be fine with it. But the obnoxiousness of the girls toward the ticket-taker at the dance and their complete lack of consideration for others or sense of accountability, capped by their essentially becoming mean girls themselves at the end, make this one merit the D.
    Furthermore, I never said the man was a pedophile — I said that the girl made a date with a stranger she met on the internet and went to a bar to see him. It was her behavior I was objecting to, not his.

  • Eden

    Wow,.. horrible review. There was NO sexual reference what-so-ever. The “hooking-up” reference is to a kiss, as clearly stated in the film. “Julie” only goes to the club to get a photo that she got in a ‘scavenger-hunt’ like game to get the right to the best lunch table at school & hurries to leave once the photo is taken. While she does order a ‘sex on the beach’, it is clear that she doesn’t know that is contains alcohol & is disgusted by the name. & is even screamed toward by a friend who tells her there is alcohol in it.(never even drinks the pop she got instead) Though the film is all white cast, name more than 3 that aren’t? I’m Black & Asian. & 34 from a strict Buddhist home. It’s a fun kids film, very low in anything to be offended by, & if any parent is, i strongly suggest TALKING to your children about reality vs. tv. & what are appropriate actions for your child’s age. As well as stressing a great communication between the 2 of you.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Eden, I’m always glad to hear from someone who sees more in a movie than I do. But I call “Sex on a Beach” a sexual reference and don’t forget that these girls lie, cheat, steal, drive, sneak out to meet a stranger in a bar, are horribly mean to the girl at the ticket desk, and ultimately are just as exclusionary as the girls they compete with. For me, that made the movie unacceptable. But of course you are right that you should talk to kids about all of the movies they see and even a bad movie can lead to a good discussion. Thanks for writing and I hope you find that we agree about some of the other movies your family enjoys.

  • Kamara

    WOW adults think WAY to lowly of teens im one myself, 14 just like the girls in the movie and i understand that they shouldnt of sneeked out of the house but this review was BOGUS we know what is wright and wrong, yea movies have an invluence on us but not that big of one just because somthing happenes in a movie doesn’t mean will instantly do it and most teens know some acoul drinks, it’s n ot un common, and if parents want to blame TV and movies for there child rebeling than they myst not be good parents, i agree that movies adn stuff have an influience on us but adults have more, adn this was jsut a cliche film about teens sneeking out to get a lunch spot, teens that arnt that popular and would love to make a new start in highschool,and they arnt mean to the ticket girl, they were stating facts, she was a smart unpopular girl that instead of going to a dance was taking tikets, they were asking her ‘do you want more people do have a live like you?” not putting her down. and i agree with Melissa this movie should have atleast of gotten a B.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Thanks, Kamara! I am glad you think for yourself and believe you are not overly influenced by the media and appreciate your taking the time to write. Just a suggestion, though — if you want to persuade anyone of your judgment and credibility, focus on your grammar and spelling and try to assemble your arguments in a more organized fashion.
    I don’t agree with what you said about the ticket taker. Even if what they said was true, it was unkind and showed that the girls in the movie were more interested in some abstract notion of “popularity” than in treating other people with respect. And at the end of the film, the girls were not nice to other people who might want to sit with them. If you don’t see that, perhaps you were more influenced than you assume. But I appreciate your taking the time to write and welcome your comments any time.

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