July 2008 – blogUT

American Teen poster American Teen, the new documentary by Nanette Burstein (The Kid Stays in the Picture), has more narrative, in a good way, than your average documentary. However, it ultimately fails by being even more stereotypical than John Hughes’s fictional high school film, The Breakfast Club.

American Teen attempts to describe the quintessential high school experience in small town blue-collar white Christian America, Warsaw, to be exact, and prove that those old Hughesian stereotypes – the jock, the prom queen, the artsy, the geek – really do have some basis in reality. Well, sure, if you choose to only take an on-the-surface stereotypical look at people, you can probably fit them into one of those stereotypes! And so Burstein does.

We meet Colin, the handsome, charming, pointy-chinned, and even smart, basketball superstar. Colin’s father pushes him too hard to play hard and get a basketball scholarship since his father did not bother to save money for his son’s college education. We meet Megan, the high school prom queen, student council president, and resident backstabbing mean girl, not to mention vandal. She is also quite smart and comes from a family of intellectuals who put enormous pressure on her to both get into and attend Notre Dame University, her father’s Alma Mater. Continue reading “American Teen – just your average movie high school experience”

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