Summer movies are supposed to have big time movie stars, massively huge explosions, and overused CG effects. Aren’t they? Of course there are those teen comedies that slip between the cracks. But those kinds of flicks rely on bodily fluids and topless girls as the central basis for their humor. Well not in this case. Sleepover is a squeaky clean teen comedy fronted by “Spy Kid” Alexa Vega. Unlike every other summer teen comedy that has come before it, there is absolutely no drug use, no innuendo, no nudity, no gratuitous sex, and no cursing…yet the movie remains rather amusing. Quite a breathe of fresh air, except for an occasional dog fart.
A group of friends Julie (Alexa Vega), Hannah (Mika Boreem), Farrah (Scout Taylor-Compton), and Yancy (Kalli Flyn Childress) have just finished junior high and are eagerly awaiting high school. After their last day of school, the group decides to have a sleepover at Julie’s house to celebrate the end of their school year. That end will lead to a fresh beginning when a rival group of girls, led by popular girl Stacie (Sarah Poxton), proposition Julie and friends to go on a little scavenger hunt. Included on their to-do list is dressing up a mannequin, stealing a pair of boxers from high school dream boat Steve (Sean Faris), and stealing the crown from their high school dance. The winning group gets to sit at the much desired “lunch spot,” thus determining that groups coolness throughout the rest of high school. Of course there’s a catch. Julie isn’t allowed to leave her house, so it’s up to big brother Ren (Sam Huntington) to shield their preoccupied father (Jeff Garlin) and out for the night mother (Jane Lynch) from the girls’ absence.
Surprisingly, all the humor in this movie comes from the guys. Jeff Garlin, best known for his work on HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm”, plays the bumbling and clueless Mr. Fix It Dad perfectly. Huntington (Detroit Rock City, Not Another Teen Movie) is forlorn about dropping out of college and moving home after his mother turns his room into a yoga and craft corner. His finely nuanced mooching and well honed money begging are a delight. Steve Carrell (Bruce Almighty, “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”) on the other hand, is where most of this movie’s real funny moments come from. He steals every scene. The minute he shows up, you know something funny will happen. His depiction of a Rent-A-Cop reminds me of his Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy co-star Will Ferrell and his portrayal of Marshall Willenholly in Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back, making him by far the worst officer ever...but in that good and funny way.
Director Joe Nussbaum had to pay his dues on this flick. It is his first major studio film since breaking on the scene with his indie spoof George Lucas in Love. But instead of shelling out another teen gross-out fest or a cheesy kid friendly family flick, he walked a fine line down the middle in his effort on Sleepover. He found the right cast and kept it in the right tone.
On the other hand, screenwriter Elisa Bell, has been around awhile. In the past she’s shown a flair for writing Lifetime movies, but is only now starting to grow. This is her second major studio film, the first being the National Lampoon-less sequel Vegas Vacation. Making this movie is a stark improvement in the comedy department.
Most you will probably not see or go anywhere near Sleepover. It will be another casualty of the web slinging super-hero. This isn’t something you need to run out and go see, you will not live a longer and healthier life after sitting through it, and you will not be a different person when it is over. Overall, it’s a nice lighthearted piece of entertainment. The kind of movie that mother’s should head out to see with their young daughters. This movie is just what it is: Demographic counter marketing with all the best of intentions. Sleepover will try and drive in the young folk and pre-teens. If you’re feeling random, you might want to give it a chance. Just don’t tell anyone.