Ever feel like you’ve been cheated?
- American Teen review by CP Customer
Though billed as a documentary it’s hard to know what exactly ‘American Teen’ is. The film has far more in common with TV shows like MTV’s ‘Laguna Beach’, ‘The Hills’ and ‘The Real Orange County’, which themselves are partially scripted and storylined fly on the wall documentaries, than conventional documentaries like ‘American Movie’, ‘King Of Kong’ or ‘New York Doll’. The five main students chronicled within the film are clichéd clones of characters plucked right out from an 80’s John Hughes teen movie like ‘The Breakfast Club’. The slickly filmed documentary footage appears to have been edited then re-edited in order to create artificial storylines which in turn cause a huge amount of continuity errors, in one scene the high school nerd ‘Jacob’ is seen having his hair cut by his girlfriend’s mother who apologises for cutting it too short, in the next scene Jacob is dumped by his girlfriend but his hair is long again. In another scene a high school basketball game is played, but if you pay attention to the scoreboard the score is higher midway through than in the final minute of the match. The subjects of the documentary also act and speak as if they are acting out pre-scripted scenes, no-one ever naturally glances at the camera or acknowledges that they’re being filmed, and subjects do ridiculously stupid things that no rational person would ever do on camera knowing that their actions were being filmed. An example of this is Megan, the bitchy queen bee of the school who circulates a topless photo of another female student who she dislikes to the entire school via email and then proceeds to make a series of offensive nuisance phone calls to the girl, which goes completely unpunished. After not getting her own way on the theme of the high school prom, the same girl then vandalises another student’s home by throwing toilet paper into his garden and spray painting a homophobic comment on his window, and this act only gets a mild telling off from the high school vice-principal. Overall, ‘American Teen’ is a film which feels completely staged and fake, in which real high school teens are playing out pre-planned semi-scripted events which are later manipulated in the editing room by the director to form the documentary she wanted, and the end result is an experience which leaves you feeling somewhat cheated. If you like MTV’s ‘The Hills’ they you probably will enjoy this, if you’re a fan of real documentaries then give it a miss and rent the superb ‘American Movie’, ‘King of Kong’ or ‘Billy The Kid’ instead.
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