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Alexandra DuPont Calls Bullshit On AMERICAN TEEN!!

'American Teen': FAQ (by Alexandra DuPont) ____ Q. What's the upshot? It's a documentary that claims to get deep inside the real lives of a bunch of Indiana teenagers. There are a few funny, cringe-inducing, and maybe even honest moments to be had. But the larger reality-show maniplulation that runs rampant through this doc fills me with an overwhelming desire to call bullshit. And so, "American Teen," I am totally calling bullshit on you. I don't think director Nanette Burstein is evil or lying or anything. In fact, I usually dig her stuff. She made the docs "On the Ropes" and "The Kid Stays in the Picture" and this IFC reality miniseries called "Film School" about NYU film students getting their asses kicked that's completely worth your time. But "American Teen" is so slick, it feels staged even if it wasn't. I sort of got the vibe that Burstein didn't think we'd notice her shamelessly manipulative editing -- which is nearly "The Hills"-level in manufacture -- or that all of these "unguarded," unscripted moments are happening while cameras are stuck in the kids' faces. Did she fail to notice that all of us (especially her teen subjects) got wise to the machinations of reality TV at least a decade ago? There are spoilers from here on out. Q. What’s the story? Burstein spends an entire senior year with the Class of 2006 in Warsaw, Indiana. She shot something like 1,200 hours of footage from every possible angle (explaining why this doc looks feature-slick), then she whittled it down to focus on four main characters:

1. Hannah is the character on which many of you might develop a crush. She's a more grounded, real-life version of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl -- she's quirky and sweet and smart and extremely cute, bursts into random fits of dancing, and dreams of escaping Indiana to go to film school in a big city. Boys dump her twice over the course of the school year (once via text message!). She also suffers from crippling depression and anxiety, to the degree that she skips school for a few weeks after she gets dumped. Burstein gives Hannah preferential treatment throughout the film -- and I suspect it's because the 38-year-old Burstein (who was probably working through all her 1980s high-school issues while making this) feels like she's looking in a mirror whenever she's filming this kid. (I also have to wonder if Hannah considered the long-term benefits of giving up her life as fodder for Burstein, who's deeply connected in the NYC film community.)

2. Colin is the school's basketball star. His father is an Elvis impersonator and one of those awful sports parents who stands in the bleachers and yells and sweats a lot. If Colin doesn't get a sports scholarship, he isn't going to college -- and the resulting pressure makes him hog the ball during games as he tries to sink more baskets and starts flubbing shots and just generally engages in flop-sweaty Epic Fail in front of the entire community.

3. Jake is an acne-scarred, video-game-loving, self-proclaimed geek who speaks in a monotone and comes off like the real-world version of Roast Beef from "Achewood." He really, really wants a girlfriend. He's completely awkward, but also kind of awesome, because he's amusingly self-aware and sports some serious sack, walking right up to girls and asking them out, damn the consequences. He also dates two or three women over the course of the school year, and I can't help but think the allure of the cameras surrounding him had something to do with that.

4. Finally, there's Megan, the richest and most popular girl in school. Burstein edits the film to make her seem so thoughtless and mean that I spent much of the movie fighting the urge to flip her the bird from my theater seat. Megan has some very real trauma and sadness in her past, and she's under tremendous pressure from her parents to get into Notre Dame. She has my sympathies for this. But while that may explain some of her friend-napalming behavior, it doesn't excuse it. Megan decides, on a whim, to destroy a friend named Erica's reputation by e-mailing a topless photo of her to the entire school, then crank-calls her and says stuff like, "You're sentenced to be a slut for the rest of your life." (A quick post-email interview of Erica as she fights to keep her dignity and composure through tears is one of the few truly honest and horrifying moments in the movie; I wish Burstein had followed this poor girl around a little more.) Megan also spray-paints the word "FAG" on the window of the house of a boy who fought for a prom theme she didn't like. She gets a slap on the wrist for this crime, then complains that she's the victim. Megan's father, who looks uncannily like an older Dwight Schrute, has the following reaction on the phone, BTW: "This was stupid, Megan. This was even stupider if you got caught." Nice parenting, guy! Megan has undoubtedly matured a great deal in the two years since this doc was shot, but she should be praying every day that "American Teen" fails to find an audience. I almost feel bad that a highlight reel of her misdeeds is about to be judged by hundreds of thousands of viewers, and will soon be available to millions more via the magic of digital versatile disc. If there isn't a message board somewhere where Megan is talking, Billy Mitchell-style, about how she was wronged in the editing suite, there will be soon.
Q. What's good? 1. The characters do draw you in -- but they draw you in like movie characters, or maybe reality-show contestants, not documentary subjects. Somehow, everyone magically gets a tidy little John Hughes ending for his or her story arc, and Hannah and Jake are well worth rooting for. (As we all know, kids considered hot and popular in high school don't necessarily make an impact outside that confidence-building caste system -- and I'm guessing wallflowers like Hannah and Jake will probably blossom into objects of Facebook desire wherever they end up moving, once the acne meds kick in.) 2. There are a handful of flashes of honest left-field dialogue worthy of Judd Apatow's "Freaks and Geeks," which is maybe the highest compliment I can pay:
a. Jake makes all sorts of Bill Haverchuck-esque pronouncements. When one girl dumps him, she hilariously says, "It’s not that I don't care, or whatever." b. We hear Colin's dad telling his son how proud he is of his star-athlete spawn -- and then the camera cuts back and we see that the dad is dressed in full fat-Elvis regalia. c. Megan has this wonderfully unguarded reaction to a letter from Notre Dame. d. And Hannah's unstable mother tells her daughter that she knows the dangers faced by young girls in big cities "because it's my HOBBY! You KNOW THAT!"
3. The movie does a pretty fair (if surface-y) job capturing the way kids are constantly extruding their sensoriums these days with gadgets. Everyone's always talking to someone while also staring into a phone. Whole worlds are rocked via text message.
Q. What's not-so-good? 1. I hated the way the kids' inner lives are illustrated by cheaply animated segments that are way too on-the-nose. Jake becomes a video-game character! Colin flies through the clouds dunking basketballs! And come on: Is visualizing Hannah's depression using a Tim Burton-ish animated puppet anything other than simplistic, reductive and condescending? 2. When did pasty, shaggy-haired dorks who look like overfed, under-exercised Jonas Brothers start getting the girls? Is this some post-video-game-culture development that I (thankfully) missed? 3. Back to the calling of bullshit: Nanette Burstein, I would LOVE it if you could answer the following questions:
a. Was your zeal to work through your own late-'80s high-school issues what led you to chainsaw the footage until you re-created "The Breakfast Club" with real kids? b. Do you fully understand how media-savvy your subjects are -- how they've grown up bathed in the shitty glow of reality TV, and how much they're playing to your cameras and loving the attention as a result? c. How do you react to the heated discussion on the "American Teen" IMDb message board by alleged students at the school about the actual level of "reality" in the film? Discussions there range from declaring the film "fake" to defending the film's veracity but also saying, and I quote, "Some stuff was planned" or "The most that they did was have them re-enact situations that already happened for filming purposes, errors in the tape, sound etc." d. How long did it take to set up those shots where Hannah, in the throes of depression, is staring meaningfully and perfectly into the distance at various bridges and riverbanks without looking at the camera? e. When did you capture the close-ups of particularly traumatizing phone chats and e-mails? Did you just sidle up to the kids as soon as they stopped crying? f. At what point would you attach the wireless mikes to these kids -- you know, the mikes that keep popping out of their butts during slapping matches and drinking games and big arguments and other "unguarded," emotionally extreme moments? g. Did you have to tell the kids to not look at the camera during each of the eight billion shots where they're staring moodily at nothing while lying on their beds? How about whenever you followed them into alcoves for top-secret discussions that they had to know could be shown to everyone later? h. Were the girls who hang out with poor, brave Jake only hanging out with him because there was a chance it would land them on a big screen? i. Is it wrong that I found it kind of appalling that adult filmmakers were merrily tagging along while Megan gets drunk with her friends, commits borderline hate crimes, and gleefully destroys another girl's reputation while basically swirling in a black hole of entitled narcissism? j. If you answered question (i) by saying you're "being objective" and "capturing what's real": Why, then, do I fail to get any sense of a larger noble mission from this doc? Why is "American Teen" ultimately a slight piece -- something I'd expect to see dumped on PBS except for the MTV-friendly music licensing? k. Is only revealing Megan's trumatic past after we've come to hate her kind of manipulative? l. Why does the movie's marketing and its precious Facebook page and its portentious "This Is the American High-Schooler Today" title suggest to me that you were basically exploiting these kids in the pursuit of some sort of mild mainstream controversy that might get you a blurb in Vanity Fair or yelled at by evil Bill O'Reilly or something else that might generate a little extra art-house buzz?
_____ I know I'm reviewing a lot of stuff around the actual content of the movie -- the marketing, the possible subconscious intent of the filmmakers and the subjects (which I freely admit is complete speculation on my part). It's a completely un-credible way to write about a movie, I suppose. But the way "American Teen" tries to play the viewer sort of invites it. If you see the doc, you'll see what I mean. Finally, this is going to sound harsh, but bear with me: In the end, walking out of the theater, "American Teen" made me think once too often of those photos of traumatized school-shooting kids hugging and crying. Not because Burstein's blandly apolitical Indiana suburbanites had anything visited on them that even remotely approaches the unasked-for pain of a school shooting -- not at all. No, what "American Teen" made me think of was a school-shooting-aftermath photo I saw later -- where some photographer thought to go all meta and pull his or her camera back, revealing that the handful of kids hugging and crying were outnumbered by a vastly larger scrum of cameramen crowding around them, exploiting their grief for footage that could be skillfully cut into a musical montage to end the newscast. Ew. Warmest, Alexandra DuPont. Arm yourself to attack my critical judgment! It's easy and fun! Visit The (finally updated) DuPont Bibliography!

Readers Talkback
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  • Aug. 8, 2008, 12:27 p.m. CST



  • Aug. 8, 2008, 12:27 p.m. CST

    And yes...


    This is bullshit. Posting First I mean.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 12:38 p.m. CST

    The documentary you didn't ask for...

    by Heckles

    ...about shit you don't care about.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 12:39 p.m. CST

    Teenagers Are BORING

    by LaserPants

    Yes, we get it, they're cliqueish, vulgar, obnoxious, oblivious, self-obsessed, irritating, often depressed, hormonal, directionless, tacky, garrish, stupid, and HAVE NO IDEA that they are these things. We get it. Really, we do. Thankfully most of us grow up and out of this morass, though some seem content to stay there forever. I have absolutely no desire to see this. <br><br>The thing thats so funny is how stuff like Whedon's shows or Juno, portray teens as if they were witty, literate, snarky adults. I'd love to see someone do a fictional show that exposed the epic idiocy and mundanity of the actual teenager, rather than a hyper-idealized / fetishized one. Perhaps I will make that film. Nah, who am I kidding. Maybe a comic or too.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 12:41 p.m. CST

    No thanks!!

    by Harold-Sherbort

    It looks like shit.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 12:45 p.m. CST

    first largely meative review I've read

    by mefrog

    and an extremely interesting one at that. Now my interest is only a bit higher bit I will go in expecting more bullshit. And that girl megan sounds like a big 'ol bitch.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 12:45 p.m. CST

    nobody cares you were first

    by ArcadianDS

    and your handle stinks.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 12:46 p.m. CST

    I mean 'negative'

    by mefrog

    Fucking iPhone. Fucking lack of an edit button.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 12:52 p.m. CST

    Wow This is a really bad review

    by eric haislar

    You really did go out of your way to trash this film. I would like to know how you would have made this film any different. That sounds just like the high school i remember. Stereotypes are Stereotypes they exist because they are biased in reality for the most part. I am sure alot of what happened in the film feels forced i am sure it is but these kids did it on purpose because they have cameras following them. You can only make the film out of what they have given you. and I am sure it was the best way to tell the story.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 12:54 p.m. CST

    I'd already decided I'd rather eat my own shit than see this

    by Drunken Rage

    just based on the clearly-staged footage in the trailer. Ms. DuPont, you have very effectively listed the reasons why no one should see this. Fuck fake reality.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 1 p.m. CST

    American "White" Teen!

    by lb_12

    You would think that 2 decades later that the "all american teens" would at least warrant 1 minority kid. Ahh, the token character... sigh...

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 1:01 p.m. CST

    "...or yelled at by evil Bill O'Reilly"

    by Angry White baby

    Quite funny, considering that most of the questions Alex asks are questions Bill would ask... before he started yelling. >:) Speaking of fetishizing teenagers, I wonder if there are those who would consider O'Reilly rants a fetish?

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 1:04 p.m. CST

    I didn't like my high school...

    by samuraiyao

    It was boring as fuck.... I'll catch this when it hits Netflix or something...

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 1:05 p.m. CST


    by VictorVonDoom

    DOOM called bullshit on American Dream long ago! To hell with alternate Marvel Universes!

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 1:08 p.m. CST

    Finally, an honest review

    by Garbageman33

    Which they probably held until their contract was up on the banner ads.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 1:09 p.m. CST

    are we surprised by this?

    by Cedar_Room

    aren't all documentaries focusing on real people in "real life" situations fundamentally bullshit? No real life situation has you followed around by a camera crew. The whole thing is fundamentally unreal. As for this film - sounds like something you'd see on MTV i.e. something I wouldn't watch on MTV.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 1:14 p.m. CST

    My local "alternative" free paper had the same reaction.

    by OBSD

    So Ms. DuPont isn't the only one. I almost wished they had gone super-meta on this one. Show the "scene" and then show the director, via hidden camera, manipulate the "spontaneous" scene several times. Like a guerilla documentary of this "documentary".

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 1:15 p.m. CST

    Just great

    by MJDeViant

    "Reality" has already ruined TV and now it comes to the movies. If you went to high school then why would you even need to see this? If you watch MTV why would you even need to see this? All they run is crap like this. I swear, media in general has been falling ever since "The 'Real' World" aired. People, they're the worst....

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 1:22 p.m. CST


    by LaserPants

    I like your idea.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 1:22 p.m. CST

    Kids are manipulative as shit

    by Garbageman33

    Generally, they can get their parents to do anything they want. You don't think that maybe, just maybe they could manipulate a camera crew the same way. Let's face it, these kids could portray themselves however they wanted. The bitchy girl probably saw "Mean Girls" one too many times and thought it'd be cool to be the Rachel McAdams character. As for Hannah, I loved the part where she refused to come out of her room all week, and yet, she had no problem letting in the camera crew. Yeah, that's pretty realistic.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 1:25 p.m. CST

    did I miss something?

    by Datascream

    but I thought this chick "retired". Does she just come back all the time too keep herself relevant?

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 1:30 p.m. CST

    I LOVE this review... (everything I was afraid of)

    by TheSeeker7

    After reading over the main story of this film in the latest Entertainment Weekly issue, I was getting the same sort of vibe from this whole enterprise that Alexandra is now spelling out, so I'm glad to see I was possibly on the right track.<br> <br> Plus, I find it very interesting that her (even spoilery) review tells NOTHING about the "Heartthrob" kid Mitch, and yet all the marketing I've seen for the doc (including the EW piece) is selling this like it tells 5 main stories equally, not 4.<br> <br> Finally, I loved the link to the article on the "Manic Pixie Dream Girl", it had never occurred to me how rampant such a thing is in films, and yes, it seems like Hannah is getting sold as just another one of these.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 1:33 p.m. CST

    Does the Jock look like the Nerd to anyone else?

    by Squashua

    Man, that basketball guy has a lot of hornet nests in his video game dungeon.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 1:35 p.m. CST


    by Alexandra.DuPont

    Mitch isn't in the film NEARLY as much as the marketing suggests. He starts dating Hannah late in the film. Total supporting character. I think they just needed someone to round out that "Breakfast Club" poster (and BTW, Mitch is NOTHING like Judd Nelson's character).

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 1:36 p.m. CST


    by Alexandra.DuPont

    ... There's a big difference between making an honest documentary and making a reality-TV show that BILLS itself as an honest documentary. I'll leave it at that.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 1:38 p.m. CST


    by Alexandra.DuPont

    That was a photo error. Herc just fixed it for me.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 1:41 p.m. CST

    "You dumb bitch".

    by Garbageman33

    That's a great phrase to throw into your argument, Cecil. It really increases your credibility. In fact, Pauline Kael used to use that phrase all the time. You dumb bitch this and you dumb bitch that. And that's why she's considered the preeminent film critic of all time. Nobody called other critics a dumb bitch like Pauline Kael did.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 1:41 p.m. CST

    Well thanks for chiming in, Alexandra

    by TheSeeker7

    And the thing about Mitch, now mind you, I'm a guy who has the capacity to recognize when another guy is very good looking, but honestly, this "Heartthrob" looked to me like a significantly less attractive version of the Cedric Diggory character from Harry Potter. And ok, this is more of a sidenote, but in that EW article, the main "current" photo they published of Hannah (where she was at this cast get together eating at a table with Mitch) was quite disgusting, the cameras flashed as she was literally in mid-chew and had bits of food falling from her mouth because she was laughing so hard. ewwww.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 1:41 p.m. CST

    "The idea that documentaries can be completely objective is..."

    by grungies

    "conceptually retarded." -Werner Herzog I'm paraphrasing here, but that's the jist.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 1:45 p.m. CST

    Also in the EW article, regarding the marketing...

    by TheSeeker7

    Something that Hannah was quite upset about -- apparently for their respective summers in LA, each of the kids were apparently made to drive around in a car given to them that's got posters for the film plastered all over its sides. No joke. Are you kidding me? Fuck, I would've relied on public transportation before I ever stepped foot in such an embarrassment.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 1:47 p.m. CST


    by Squashua

    Well, someone's gotta point those out. Stupid documentarian; couldn't buy that kid some damn ProActive.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 1:52 p.m. CST

    Teen agers suck

    by MJohnson


  • Aug. 8, 2008, 2:02 p.m. CST

    Wow, a new Dupont review every week!

    by Nasty In The Pasty

    Along with Mori, she's been consistently the best reviewer on this site, offering honest, frequently funny attacks on movies (even the lame elements of good movies like Dark Knight). Good to see you back, Alexandra!

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 2:05 p.m. CST

    Thanks for the HEADS UP...

    by hollywoodsummers

    I was curious about it but now going to skip this one. I can't stand anything that even resembles THE HILLS.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 2:06 p.m. CST

    Best review I've read here in months.

    by theredtoad

    Because it's true.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 2:06 p.m. CST

    This Entertainment Weekly feature on 'American Teen'....

    by Alexandra.DuPont

    ... kind of confirms a lot of things I suspected: <p> 'Lights! Camera! High School!'<p>

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 2:07 p.m. CST

    I've read a few negative reviews

    by Larry of Arabia

    NPR, for example, goes after it for the exact reasons Ms. DuPont does here. Compare this film to some of the great Teen documentaries like the perfect "Hoop Dreams" or near perfect "Jesus Camp." Those are real movies about kids just doing their thing. Christ, this one shot of a girl alone thinking by a picnic table in "Jesus Camp" is far more real than this could ever hope to be. Go further and compare it to other documentaries about normal people. "Harlan County, USA," the more recent "the Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill" or "The Bridge." In ever one the camera is an aferthought. There is one, or maybe two following people around or getting their shots. In this film there are so many they can get just the right angle, or they choose to recreate something that happens so it looks good. These kids are so, so aware that they are stars they use it to get girls, shame others, and choke under the pressure. I wonder if the movie reviewers have ever seen the latter years of Real World or Survivor where everyone learned that to get screen time they needed to play a "type." That's whats going on. Meghan knows that the stars of the reality show are the mean ones. There is a damn good movie to be made of this material if she had bothered to be invisible or go deeper instead of surrounding her kids with so many cameras that they were conspicuous. It's a wasted opportunity.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 2:09 p.m. CST

    Thank you ADP...

    by MCVamp

    I got the bad vibe during the trailer and you have validated every bit of it. Why didn't they call it "My So-Called Documentary"?

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 2:15 p.m. CST

    This whole reality TV thing...

    by OBSD

    I hate all reality TV. Although my girlfriend makes me watch Project Rungay, I still hate the idea that between endless remakes and reality television we have no creativity left in our entertainment anymore. What's funny is that there were two "prophetic" films that came out right before the reality craze hit: Series 7 and The Truman Show. So here's the question: Now that reality has been a staple for over 10 years, which film better describes the future of reality television, the gameshow for murder like in Series 7, or a man whose entire life is secretly filmed for the enjoyment of the rest of the world, like in The Truman Show?

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 2:18 p.m. CST


    by RenoNevada2000

    Thank god I'm not the only one who didn't like the staginess of this film. Honestly, with the long shots of the kids looking sadly into the sunset, etc., I thought I was watching freakin' Dawson's Creek.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 2:20 p.m. CST

    Evil O'Reilly?

    by Cash907

    He's not evil honey, he's irish. We like to shout sometimes, it's kinda our thing. The most bill is gonna do is call bullshit on this movie the exact same way you did. While the director isn't as tasteless and evil as that fat bastard Moore tearing apart an old man with Alzheimers for the sake of his film, she did jump the shark, and showed poor judgement on multiple levels.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 2:22 p.m. CST

    great review ADP

    by Tarl_Cabot

    My friend's wife, who's now over 40, wants a baby...but she doesn't want a teenager.Hmmmm...

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 2:23 p.m. CST

    Evil and Irish...

    by OBSD

    aren't mutually exclusive.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 2:28 p.m. CST


    by WS

    All documentaries are biased, because the film-makers have a point of view and they're naturally going to express that point of view through the choices they make during editing...however, there's a big difference between being biased and being a fucking liar...and if anything that's being alleged against this movie is true, (that the film-makers staged scenes, provided alcohol for the kids, encouraged them to act out) then I think you have to call it what it is: exploitation.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 2:29 p.m. CST

    this shouldn't be called a documentary...

    by im nar

    awesome review, in this day and age it is virtually impossible to do any documentary on high school teenagers without them acting for the camera. kids these days grow up on "reality" tv. also andrea, overweight jonas brothers looking geeks are the trend right now. look at all the newest axe commercials. everyone looks like an chubby italian version shaggy now.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 2:30 p.m. CST

    RE: OBSD

    by Larry of Arabia

    I'd forgotten The Truman Show. Good call, but it's the flipside of what we've become. He's totally unaware of the cameras while the current subjects are 100% aware. Still, good call and a seriously great movie.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 2:39 p.m. CST

    Oh, and after reading that Blank Slate article

    by Cash907

    I think I actually like these kids. I think Jim Carrey summed it up best in "The Majestic" when asked "In what capacity were you in attendance at that young communists club?" (or some such, it's been a few years) to which he replied "As a horny young man, your honor." Most guys I knew in college that went to political rallys or clubs were there because liberal girls tend to put out more then the conservative ones. Not always, but it's a pretty general rule of thumb. Getting mad at these kids for looking at all the fervor and madness of the East and West coast, roll their eyes, and go back to trying to keep their grades up so they don't lose their scholarships and by extension their opportunities to really be something more then themselves is a pretty asinine move. The people in my life that I see changing the world aren't doing it with picket signs or political hate blogs, but rather through volunteering, educating, and just generally being decent people that affect others around them simply through their good and caring nature. And no offense, but in regards to the author of that blog, someone who is too young to remember the gas lines of the Carter administration, or the garbage strewn smog choked highways of the 70's, really has no business saying the world is going to hell in a global warming handbasket. The world we live in today is a hell of a lot more blissful then it used to be, the fact that we can get so worked up over such minutia proving that beyond a shadow of a doubt, even if it does come at a 4 dollars a gallon premium.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 2:42 p.m. CST

    Don't forget Louis 19 and its remake EdTV

    by MCVamp

    Those movies were about guys who knew they were on reality TV...and then the producers decide to spice it up.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 2:51 p.m. CST

    I thought we all knew this wasn't on-the-level.

    by Lenny Nero

    Seriously, every article talks about how false a lot of it seems. This is not news, but thanks for the review, I guess.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 2:53 p.m. CST

    I hated High School the first go around....

    by The Dum Guy

    Why would I want to view it thru someone else's life.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 2:57 p.m. CST

    ADP > Scriptgirl

    by DOGSOUP

    In every fucking way.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 3:04 p.m. CST

    I wasn' t interested in this film

    by #1 Zero

    This is the first review I've read by DuPont and I thought it was a pretty good. I've only heard about this movie sporadically and it really didn't seem interesting at all. When it is revealed in the review that the director has a lot of connections in the NYC film scene it just made me think of this as an opportunistic movie that as the review said may give the director some cred, but is probaly mostly staged. It's as if she filmed the teenage crap and then went back to her NYC cabal and said, "Look what I just did. Isn't this important?"

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 3:18 p.m. CST

    yeah this sounds really sucky

    by Rupee88

    anything that sounds too much like "reality" TV is a big turn off. Even "King of Kong" seemed a little staged when I watched it and apparently much of it was. This sounds like it takes it to the extreme. FAIL.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 3:21 p.m. CST

    I'm probably not the first to mention it...

    by rock-me Amodeo

    but I think we're going to see even more blurring of the lines between reality and documentary. Media-savvy kids indeed. What will it take to really touch the heart of those teens when they make it to adulthood? More and more shock and exploitation?<br><br>I think I need to go home and hug my children.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 3:39 p.m. CST

    I'd hate to see my awkard phase on film...

    by drewlicious

    Which still continues to this day unfortunately.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 3:56 p.m. CST

    Ebert called the staginess of it pretty well

    by strosmer

    He says, "But many scenes seem suspiciously staged. Why would Megan, the "most popular" girl in school, allow herself to be photographed spreading toilet paper on a lawn and spray-painting "FAG" on the house window of a classmate? Is she really that unaware? She's the subject of disciplinary action in the film; why didn't she tell school officials that she only did it for the movie?"<p>A documentarian is supposed to document and then find the story in the footage. Sure, the documentarian has his/her biases, even some sort of agenda in making the film, that's fine, but for fuck's sake, you don't stage anything. I'll give this one a pass, thanks.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 4:17 p.m. CST

    Alexandra, you're one of the best we've got

    by Midnight Thud

    Reading your review was like having a boil lanced that's been building up for the past few weeks since seeing this edited-to-hell film posing as a documentary. Odious as that analogy is, you honestly hit upon every egregious point I had against this film, and you're 100% in the right for bringing the context into the forefront with your review. It's been disheartening to see so many people use the words "brutally honest" and "true" for a film where the length of character's hair will shift within the span of a scene, or where elements within the film are actually digitally altered in post (you think that's the latest Zelda that Jake is playing? Nope, think again... he's not even using the right system for that... Jake was actually playing Wind Waker, but the filmmakers didn't think that was "current enough" according to him). I actually had the privilege to meet the actual subjects at an AICN brunch, and suffice to say there was a lot we learned about how much the film was cut out of context. They even omitted the fact that Hannah was EXPELLED from school. Ecstasy of truth my ASS! how does something that major end up going out the wayside? Also, Meghan's actions may not be excusable, but there's a much deeper backstory as to why she defiled Erica's reputation (note: it wasn't a spur-of-the-moment act of cruelty). Anyhow, thanks again for your review. It's been helpful... clearly there's been some PTSD on my end from this whole experience...

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 4:27 p.m. CST

    Albert Brooks had it right

    by ballyhoo

    All the BS regarding the idea of "capturing real life as it happens" is right there in 1979's Real Life.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 4:29 p.m. CST

    If only Heisenberg had known...

    by DarthCorleone

    ...that the Uncertainty Principle would one day be analogized and see its most popular application through the fakery of reality television and "documentaries."

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 4:30 p.m. CST

    American Teen: Inglewood vs. Whittier

    by conspiracy

    Now THAT, would be worth watching! Probably better action scenes than a dozen Rambos! Best of all they do their own stunts and no special effects. Why? Cuz they ain't PUNKS..them fuckers use REAL bullets!

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 4:35 p.m. CST

    It's a matter of degree...

    by DarthCorleone

    Y'all claiming that "all" documentaries are bullshit and thus this isn't a valid critique are full of it. There are obviously degrees of how involved the filmmaker gets involved with his subject. Take a look at something like Hoop Dreams, and then take a look at something like The Hills. As far as I'm concerned, the first clue that a "documentary" has crossed the line is when a scene obviously has the camera coverage that could only be caught via staging. The Hills is loaded with that.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 4:39 p.m. CST

    And by the way...

    by DarthCorleone're not a genuine high school "loner" if you're getting dates. What a load of crap.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 4:41 p.m. CST

    She's Back. Again. Kind of Like Favre...

    by KosherWookie

    ...She knows how to use up goodwill and make herself unwelcome. More of her snotty, supercilious and overly-referential prose... Just what I need! Will you PLEASE JUST STAY AWAY, you self-important self-indulgent hack! Don't you have a boyfriend, girlfriend or in fact any friend at all that you can inflict yourself upon? Does nobody at the Pizza Hut listen to you babble? Can't you pay a hoimeless guy five bucks to pretend he's listening to you instead of irritating the rest of us?

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 4:45 p.m. CST

    Horrible Review

    by Turd Furgeson

    Really bad... I keep giving her a chance to get better and figure out what her style is but all her reviews are just terrible.. I gave her a pass after that aweful TDK review but this is quite possibly the worst review i've ever read. Just because you were still in high school less than 5 years ago, you're not an expert on the high school experience.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 4:45 p.m. CST

    Also, the idea to do a film in the vein of American Teen and Sym

    by Midnight Thud

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 4:46 p.m. CST

    authenticity on documentaries

    by mutombo

    OK; this discussion is as long as documentaries exist. What are the limits a documentary filmmaker can go to tell his story? Some filmmakers want ZERO involvement in the world, being the perfect fly on the wall. Most filmmakers change at least something; go stand there, take this out of the shot, can you repeat that last sentence because a plane flew over, etc. Then some filmmakers stage things their subjects don't know anything about, ie: this wedding is piss boring but won't be if I pull the fire alarm. Documentary filmmakers seek story as much as fiction filmmakers do. I don't really care if a filmmakers stages their stuff or not, and it's futile to keep thinking about the authenticity of everything when watching a film. It's about the authenticity of the story that makes something a documentary, and when that's in jeopardy then the doc's in danger. Sorry for this long post, just wanted to point out this very point is THE arbitrary point and THE 'vision' about documentaries that is in dire need for change, especially with the whole 'youtube authenticity' used in fiction films like cloverfield and such.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 4:46 p.m. CST

    by Midnight Thud

    American Teen as done in the vein of Symbiopsychotaxiplasm Take 1 would be pure gold. I can't wait to see that!

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 4:48 p.m. CST

    regarding my post

    by mutombo

    i didn't make a fucking point and i guess that's my point.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 4:58 p.m. CST

    thanks for updating the bibliography alexandra

    by greenstyle92

    haven't read this review just yet, but as a fan I'm happy to see the bibliography is up to date.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 5:08 p.m. CST

    The DuPont Bibliography...

    by KosherWookie


  • Aug. 8, 2008, 5:10 p.m. CST

    Makes me think of Storytelling

    by djbmike81

    The whole time reading this I could only think of the non-fiction segment of Todd Solondz's movie, Storytelling.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 5:20 p.m. CST

    I"m from Indiana so I'll see it

    by jccalhoun

    I also interviewed for a teaching job at Warsaw high school about 10 years ago so I will also see it.<br><br>regarding being apolitical. It is Indiana. Indiana has gone Republican in every presidential election since 1964. The presidential candidates from both parties regularly ignore us for "battleground" states (although wouldn't there be more battleground states if you campaigned in more of them?). So it doesn't really do much to inspire anyone here to feel as if their vote matters. No matter who I vote for the Republican candidate will win Indiana by a landslide.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 5:33 p.m. CST


    by Uncle Stan

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 5:47 p.m. CST


    by cesaria

    indiana represent! i'm from fort wayne, but have visited warsaw many a time.

  • LOL. Quote of the YEAR, my friends! Extremely well-thought-out review, too. May your awesomeness never be equalled, Ms DuPont :D

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 6:10 p.m. CST

    ...and FAST TIMES did it better anyway

    by Sir Loin

    back in 1982, when I was in 8th grade. That film made me really wonder what I was in for the following year in high school, yikes.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 6:28 p.m. CST

    "American "White" Teen!"

    by smackfu

    While I'm sure it may seem a little 'politically incorrect' to some to not have a minority represented, it actually gives me a bit of hope for humanity that it's still possible to produce a reality show, or show in general, without any tokens. Sorry if that offends you, but when say...CBS is casting a Big Brother or Survivor or whatever, they don't just happen to land a black guy, black girl gay dude and a grizzled old man with hidden wisdom by accident. Those are REQUIRED casting choices, because if they don't have a black guy and girl in the house the show is racist, and if they don't have an old geezer they're prejudiced against the elderly, and if they don't have a gay guy they're homophobic. It's basically affirmative action for tv, and it disturbs me that producers are so on eggshells about upsetting groups with 'vocal' representation that we're all not allowed to upset, heaven forbid, that they make casting decisions based on these fears. Affirmative action for tv. Always makes me wonder how many great actors/contestants we may be missing because there were 3-4 slots on the show that were reserved for political correctness sake. "Oh, you're great, damn I really wish we could cast you, but there are only 2 spots left and if we don't give them to black people we'll be in hot water with a lot of people."

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 6:34 p.m. CST

    loserguy, you're missing the point

    by necgray

    The film itself is making a claim to a veracity that it lacks. That's the problem. If it was trying to sell itself as a docudrama, that'd be different. But it's making a claim to truth. And it's not true. In fact, it's SO not true as to be beyond the ordinary manipulation resulting from the subjectivity of a camera crew. There's a difference between being AWARE of the camera and PLAYING to the camera, which I think is the objection in this review. And honestly, it does look like a pretentious, "art house" film fusion of The Hills and The Breakfast Club.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 6:39 p.m. CST


    by Loosejerk

    were there blood stains on Megan's pillow?

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 6:43 p.m. CST

    well, smackfu, how many great shows would

    by necgray

    we get if the TV industry weren't run by old white men? How many great actors/contestants may we be missing because there are 9-10 slots reserved on a show for attractive twentysomething white people? That kind of speculation is ridiculously stupid. If anything, the phenomenon of which you speak is insulting because it ONLY casts one gay guy or two black people or whatever. "Tokens" isn't offensive as a word, it's offensive as a concept.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 6:47 p.m. CST

    Attn: OBSD and anyone that is sick of reality TV

    by Jabroni

    Hey OBSD! There is a great film much older than The Truman Show. It's a great Albert Brooks comedy from I think 1979 called "Real Life". This movie was made in 1979 and despite the clothes and hairstyles the theme is EXACTLY what we are seeing with reality shows these days. Anyone on this board that wants to see a real prediction of TV in the future should check out Albert Brooks "Real Life" it's funny now because we can all relate, I am sure it was funny then because people would never dream TV would go so far. Check it out!

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 6:52 p.m. CST

    Damn It Alex, Get On The Ball!!!

    by KosherWookie

    Stop blathering about the minutiae of pop culture like some irritating Kevin Smith wannabe and get back to work! Customers are stacking up and the Twisty Bread isn't gonna make itself!!!

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 7 p.m. CST

    Rent Kirby Dick's "Chain Camera" instead.

    by themikejonas

    Said it before, I'll say it again.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 7:13 p.m. CST

    BRAVO! Fuckin Great Review!

    by jah_kingdom

    I love the way she dissected the film and called bullshit but I also respect the way she backed it up with thoughtful insight and questions regarding authenticity. BRAVO!

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 7:14 p.m. CST


    by smackfu

    FYI, there are 4 people in charge of casting Big Brother. All are 30s-40s, 2 are women. I could only find pictures of 2 of them, and one of those was Darren Toon. I'm not sure what he is, but he's not white. So yeah, you kind of have your foot in your mouth there. Your whole arguement is based on an assumption that's not true, so I guess it's pretty much without merit. What I'm saying, what most people against affirmative action say, which for some INCREDIBLY ironic reason no minorities seem to grasp, is that making casting choices that are consciously based on race, IS RACIST. I'm not saying I want an all white cast, you racist conclusion-drawing fuck. My complaint applies just as equally to a scenario where say, 5 asian people are really great, off the wall candidates, and they don't make the show because there are 'race slots' that are to be filled by, yes, a specific number of white people, a specific number of black people, 1-2 old people, a gay guy, and room for maybe ONE asian. <br> And just for the sake of curiosity, do you believe shows in Africa should always have 1-2 white people in the main cast? Are you outraged if they don't? Probably not. I wonder why? Perhaps you can think about that for a while.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 7:43 p.m. CST

    "something I'd expect to see dumped on PBS"

    by oisin5199

    except for there was a show on PBS almost exactly like this that was actually pretty good and, I felt, pretty honest, and didn't seem manipulative. It was called American High, and I can't believe more people haven't called 'ripoff!' It was so good that Fox cancelled it because it was more like a documentary than a reality show and it finished its run on PBS. It was even filmed in a Chicago suburb, and students were actually given cameras, so it was totally aware of how teenagers 'perform' for the cameras and made that a point. The American High folk should also be calling bullshit about this movie.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 8:10 p.m. CST

    Hey Alexandra DuWhore - I'll answer these questions for you

    by geraldbeans

    Before anyone cries plant, look at my posting history. I've been posting for 3 years. Now, I'll answer your questions. a) So she edited the footage to cut out all the unnecessary bullshit and focus the story. How is this a crime? ***** b) So is she supposed to find an Amish town where all the high school kids have never watched TV before? ***** c)Oh my god! They planned shots in a documentary!??? When is the last time that happened? Hmm, maybe... IN EVERY SINGLE DOCUMENTARY THAT'S EVER BEEN FILMED!? ***** d) OMG! B-roll! How could a filmmaker dare commit this sin??!! **** e) I don't even understand this question. ***** f) Beginning of the day? (gee, that one was hard) ***** g) I'm starting to wonder if you've ever seen a documentary before. ***** h) Maybe. But so what? That's the culture we live in now. The audience isn't stupid enough to at least ask the question and Bernstein clearly knew it was a possibility that they would ask. What's your solution? Have the cameramen wear camouflage? ***** i) Oh right, because it's not hypocritical to call certain moments too staged and then cry shock and outrage when they're genuinely following a real moment. Can't have it both ways sister. **** j) Because you're pushing whatever movie you hoped to see on a movie that was something else. It's about following four interesting people going through high school. It's not trying to be anything more. And in that, it succeeds tremendously. ***** k) Are you retarded? Seriously. Placing the moment where it was made you rethink everything you thought you knew about the girl. Oh, and by the way - EVERYTHING IN MOVIES IS MANIPULATIVE YOU STUPID BITCH. ***** l) Are you honestly this dumb? Seriously. Do you know anything about marketing departments? Once the movie was bought, the marketing department tries to sell the movie to the public on its own! Bernstein had little if any say on the matter. Do me a favor, go and learn how to watch movies. Then come back and review this.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 8:17 p.m. CST

    "And if he doesn't get a basketball scholarship, he doesn't go t

    by Pop_aristocrat

    Its called student loans, guy, and its how 80% of America funds their college education. Athletic scholarships are a one in a million shot. I though families realized that college = debt ages ago. This documentary sounds more like a Disney channel cliche with every review I read.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 8:58 p.m. CST


    by Garbageman33

    Are you the guy who called this the best documentary you ever saw? Not sure where to even begin with that one.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 9:53 p.m. CST

    As a matter of fact...

    by DiverseNerd

    somewhere in the last three to five years it DID become cool to be the pasty, shaggy(or emo) haired, quiet, videogame playing nerd. Unfortunately this came about four years too late for this nerd. It's this whole "scene kid" mentality that's breaking out like a virus amongst kids 15-19 years old. I blame bands like Paramore. And if you don't believe me, check out or any of the "popular" videos on between 11pm-2am CST. You'll see what I mean.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 10:32 p.m. CST


    by geraldbeans

    "When did pasty, shaggy-haired dorks who look like overfed, under-exercised Jonas Brothers start getting the girls?" - this comment doesn't even make sense. Overfed? The kid's skinny as a rail. Dare I say this statement was only made for... dramatic flair? The very thing DuWhore accuses Bernstein of. ---- And Garbageman. Give me three that are better and I'll tell you why you're wrong.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 10:42 p.m. CST


    by Garbageman33

    As if there couldn't possibly be three documentaries that are better than this very special flashback episode of "The Hills"? But hey, since you asked, I'd love to hear your explanation of why this is better than Hoop Dreams. Or Grey Gardens. Or Crumb. I'm hoping your response contains something as insightful and witty as Alexandra DuWhore. That's brilliant stuff right there.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 10:55 p.m. CST

    I agree with Alexandria!!!!

    by kguy1326

    Well put ma'am!!!! I have seen praise for this film here, but I long suspected this film being shit. Most recent films about teens are, documentary or not. To me documentaries are supposed to make you think, inspire you, educate you, and challenge you. This movie seems like it does none of that. Well, maybe it challenges you to watch it and not hate it.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 10:59 p.m. CST

    Well done ADP

    by reflecto

    I think you have stopped me from paying for this film tomorrow.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 11:05 p.m. CST

    Megan's Feet and dork make-over coming..

    by hoorayforeric

    How does a cute 18 yr. old girl inherit her grandma's feet of today? And expect talk shows to do a make-over on the video game guy...they'll do the transformation and with that and possilbe sub-stardom from this...he'll get some serious poon!! He'll probably get it from this movie, anyhow...and get as much of that poon as possible!! As for the text breakup...what ever happend to the good old days of breaking up over email??!!

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 11:16 p.m. CST

    Hoop Dreams

    by geraldbeans

    Hoop Dreams was a good film but gets way too much credit. The film is basically lauded for its filmmakers' endurance (staying with their subjects for so long). That's admirable, but doesn't make a great documentary. But it definitely shows where we differ in opinion. The ending of that movie is such a downer with what's his name playing at the end of the Marquette bench. And I get it. That's the point. Cause it's "real". But that's why I liked this movie so much. I didn't feel like I was being taught something. I was entertained. Each person set out to achieve a goal and they achieved it. Made me happy for them. I felt good afterwards. Wow, a documentary that makes you feel good after you watch it. What a concept. I wish I could go into detail about Crumb but the documentary was forgettable enough that the only thing I remember is the brother's death. Again, way too depressing for my taste. Haven't seen Grey Gardens but the imdb listing makes it sound mildly interesting if a little quirky. I'll check it out if I can find it. --- One more thing. I don't know if you did this but people, don't compare this to The Hills. Doing so makes you look ignorant as they clearly set up scenes in that show and that is not what Bernstein does here. This director is very well respected and understands the rules of documentary filmmaking. Yes she gets some B-roll shots but honestly, every single documentary filmmaker does that these days. Are you being manipulated? Yes. But I got news for you. You're being manipulated in every single documentary you watch. Show me a documentary that doesn't edit its footage together in a way to manipulate your emotions and I will give you a million dollars.

  • Aug. 9, 2008, 12:31 a.m. CST

    Fuck Ya, Slay this shitty film! Aleaxandra, hats off to you.

    by Stereotypical Evil Archer

    Miss DuPont, you see truth; thanks for sharing and allowing us to savve our money for more $4 gasoline.

  • Aug. 9, 2008, 12:39 a.m. CST

    TopHat et al: I wasn't referring to Jake.

    by Alexandra.DuPont

    The sentence "When did pasty, shaggy-haired dorks who look like overfed, under-exercised Jonas Brothers start getting the girls?" refers very specifically to a kid in the movie named, if memory serves. Mike. Mike... <P> SPOILER <p> ... steals Jake's girlfriend right out from under him. Because Mike committed this heinous act, I will now describe him as basically looking like a tube of cookie dough with a mop-top during a scene in which he seduces said girlfriend in a swimming pool. That is all.

  • Aug. 9, 2008, 1:13 a.m. CST


    by Sidepocket

    Gamer dorks can get laid now? ... When the fuck did this start to happen!?!

  • Aug. 9, 2008, 1:17 a.m. CST

    Hello Alexandra DuPont

    by Aeghast

    You're my favorite AICN reviewer now :)

  • Aug. 9, 2008, 2:36 a.m. CST

    I'll Stick With Freaks & Geeks

    by Conrad Rooks

    Dazed & Confused as well. I prefer my teen movies to be human. I remember high school vividly- it blew. I wasn't even someone who got the shit kicked out of him. It was just fucking boring. Everyday, I thank the-fuck-Christ I grew up and escaped. So much horse shit is flung that somehow your teen years are your best and once you graduate-get a gun, Kiddo, cause you'll wanna blow your brains out. Now, these little S.O.B.'s practically run the fucking country. Can't even go to the movies without Miley Cyrus shilling for Penney's. Teenagers always think the world revolves around them, but now that we're shoving cameras in their faces, they think that's concrete evidence. Well, I obsctruct in the face of the stupidity. Being an adult is wonderful for the freedoms I enjoy. I'd rather pay taxes than have to sit in a goddamn study hall. Hey, Hollywood: How about movies for adults? We'll pay if you make 'em. The kids aren't the only ones with money. Fuck teenagers (except the ones that have half-a-brain ala Sam Weir.)

  • Aug. 9, 2008, 3:18 a.m. CST

    If it's all being documented...

    by Orionsangels

    then why should Erica care what Megan does to her. Since it's all being captured for the world to see. Megan is a fucking evil bitch! We're on your side Erica.

  • Aug. 9, 2008, 3:25 a.m. CST

    jccalhoun (re: Indiana)

    by eXcommunicated

    I live in Fort Wayne dude. Have you been paying attention to the polls lately, bro? Obama is ahead. RealClearPolitics (a Right-leaning site) is calling Indiana for Obama so far. Stay tuned.

  • Aug. 9, 2008, 4:10 a.m. CST

    Dupont, your reviews are a fun read

    by Nickytea

    but the opinions and observations always tend to be heavy on your intuitive responses and well-spoken verse, rather than solid analysis.

  • Aug. 9, 2008, 5:03 a.m. CST

    "Nightmare on American-Teen Street."

    by bobbyjoe

    HERE'S how they should do the next "Nightmare on Elm Street." The film begins as some obviously way-too-"Hills" documentary like "American Teen." But suddenly weird shit starts happening and all the whiny teen angst-y storylines start turning into horror scenarios. By the end of the film we realize it's Freddie making the documentary inside everyone's nightmares. Actually, they could just re-shoot the second half of "American Teen," and there you go.

  • Aug. 9, 2008, 6:12 a.m. CST


    by Garbageman33

    Oh, so you only like happy documentaries. In that case, may I suggest March of the Penguins. It has some really cute, cuddly penguins in it. By the way, the reason The Hills comparison is apt is that the director of this "documentary" clearly reshot some scenes. You can tell by a lack of continuity in hairstyles and backgrounds. I'm not saying those scenes were staged, I'm just saying she clearly did another "take" to make sure she got what she needed to tell her story. But you're right, it all ended on a happy note. And really, geraldbeans, isn't that what documentary filmmaking is all about?

  • Aug. 9, 2008, 8:18 a.m. CST

    What do you mean The Office isn't real?!!?

    by Larry Sellers

  • Aug. 9, 2008, 8:50 a.m. CST

    I'd never in a million years watch this tripe

    by Itchy

    , as teenagers are boring, self-indulgent, turds and make me want to puke, but based on everything I've seen and read, I wouldn't mind subourning that Hannah chick into the exciting world of internet porn.

  • Aug. 9, 2008, 9:13 a.m. CST

    Thank you for confirming what I already suspected.

    by rbatty024

    It's about time someone gave this film the drubbing it deserved. I don't know why the AICN guys have been sucking up to this film for months now. Hopefully this is the final chapter when it comes to American Teen (read: bored, privileged, white kids).

  • Aug. 9, 2008, 11:09 a.m. CST

    "Now Hannah's in film school falling for some guy who has Chines

    by Alexandra.DuPont

    Ha!<P>I don't recall that it's even clear that Jake and Hannah know each other.

  • Aug. 9, 2008, 12:04 p.m. CST

    Had me up until "hate crime"

    by ZombieHunter

    So fucking lame. It's either a crime or it's not. To say it's even more of a crime because it's against an individual who thinks they deserves special rights and laws is just asking for it.

  • Aug. 9, 2008, 12:22 p.m. CST

    The reaction to American Teen

    by The_Fredo

    may turn out to be far more interesting than the movie itself. <br> <br> Everywhere I've seen or heard a review of it, there's a major split between those who loved this movie and those who despised it. And both sides seem to take very personally the other's existance. <br> <br> I can't remember the last movie to do that. Passion of the Christ? Matrix Reloaded? Fight Club?

  • Aug. 9, 2008, 1:07 p.m. CST

    I support Alexandra

    by oisin5199

    because I think she actually knows how to write and be intelligently critical, unlike many of the reviewers here, and certainly unlike the majority of talkbackers. Especially geraldbeans who couldn't state his opinion without being a total sexist asshole and using phrases like 'stupid bitch' and Alexandra 'duwhore.' So clever, you. Would you have been so condescending if it was a man reviewing it? Fucking prick.

  • Aug. 9, 2008, 1:31 p.m. CST


    by ironic_name

  • Aug. 9, 2008, 1:31 p.m. CST

    that J.C.penny commercial

    by Zozma

    pisses me off

  • Aug. 9, 2008, 1:46 p.m. CST

    This is all well and good, Alexandra,

    by kevshindig

  • Aug. 9, 2008, 1:47 p.m. CST


    by kevshindig

    where's the review of "Crystal Skulls"?

  • Aug. 9, 2008, 1:49 p.m. CST


    by geraldbeans

    March of the Penguins may have been one of the worst documentaries I've ever seen. The reason I liked this was because it was good AND had a happy ending. All this stuff about reshooting scenes - stop being vague and give me specifics. When? Where? I know Bernstein admitted to reshooting stuff but what does that mean? That could mean she went back and got establishing shots of the town. Instead of vague IMDB rumors from disgruntled Warsaw kids who didn't make the final cut, give me some cold hard facts. Hairstyles being different? Where? What scene in particular? What were the circumstances? Did these "reshoots" (if that's what they were) manipulate the truth and tell a false story? Did she put lines into her subject's mouths that they would never say? Give me some facts and stop speculating from the tired obvious story that comes out after every good documentary ("IT WAS ALL STAGED!") I mean seriously, find a new story --- To people who haven't seen this movie. I understand that it's AICN tradition to form an opinion about a movie you've never seen (I'll be the first to admit that I'm guilty of this) do not avoid this because of this girl's review. While she's able to come up with some wild whippersnappers and witty quips, her analysis on this movie is dead wrong. She wanted to see American Teen - the Bowling For Columbine version. This is not that. But it's an excellent look at four very interesting people with simple dreams. As an explanation for why "The Hills" analysis is way off, I would rather skin myself alive than watch The Hills. That's how much I hate that show and everything it stands for. And I loved this movie. Go figure.

  • Aug. 9, 2008, 2:59 p.m. CST


    by trotsky37

    Thanks for calling bullshit on this movie. I wanted to call bullshit on it just because in my gut i felt like the audience was being played like a piano. I know documentaries haven't been doing well this past year at the box office so by trying to play on people's nostalgia for high school and seeing themselves up there on the screen in one of the kids's personas they think they can turn this into a hit while playing it off as a documentary.

  • Aug. 9, 2008, 3:11 p.m. CST


    by Alexandra.DuPont

    ... I might sneak a mini-"Crystal Skull" review into a writeup of "Clone Wars." But here's the really short version I sent to a couple of people who e-mailed me with the same question: <p> Saw it once, and kind of liked it. Thought the warehouse opening was semi-cool. Didn't hate the action scenes. Thought Ford was more energetic than he's been in years. Found Shia more tolerable than expected, etc. Wasn't knocked out of my seat by any stretch, but it wasn't the horror show I was fearing (except for that bit with the monkeys). <P> Then I saw it a second time, and REALLY found myself wanting to apologize for kind of liking it the first time. <P> IMO, its pleasures are very thin, and its problems (passive characters, smiley Marion, too many characters, tepid action, monkeys) get very, very pronounced on a second viewing. <P> I recommend giving the Darabont draft of "Indy 4" a read, if you're interested in what might have been. It's far from perfect, but it nails the Marion/Indy relationship in a way "Crystal Skull" can barely imagine, and there are a couple of insane action set-pieces. Also, no Mutt. <P> So I guess I'm ambivalent-to-disappointed. It's a movie that passes up a lot of opportunities to develop an idea into something with bite, there are a couple of nice bits and a lot of stupid jokes, and ultimately it struck me as a movie in which a bunch of people walk around looking at stuff until they finally walk up to something that spins and flies away.

  • Aug. 9, 2008, 4:34 p.m. CST

    I just save eight bucks by reading this.

    by Kurutteru Yatsu

    DuPont, don't leave again. We need more of this kind of review. Also, geraldbeans is clearly the JackNanceRevenge to the director's ScriptGirl, and ZombieHunter is a frustrated white man who think the mynoroteez and the homo queers are what's ruining this country, thank god for real Americans like Hannity and Dubya, ayup. *shudder*

  • Aug. 9, 2008, 5:07 p.m. CST

    okay sure

    by geraldbeans

    yatsu, keep forming opinions about movies you've never seen because some internet persona you have a crush on gives a review long on style and short on substance - the very thing she criticizes this movie for being. if that doesn't clue you in that she's the embodiment of hypocrisy, I don't know what will. --- I'll say it again people. Write whatever you want here about how bad you *think* the movie will be. But I'll bet my left ass cheek that you'll enjoy it more than any movie that's out right now. That's a guarantee. Again, yell and scream at me all you want cause I'm a dick. But keep that in mind when you're choosing what to see this weekend. You'll end up thanking me.

  • Aug. 10, 2008, 12:11 a.m. CST


    by Zozma


  • Aug. 10, 2008, 2:26 a.m. CST

    no crush

    by trotsky37

    yes thank you gerald beans. we all have crushes on blogger just because she is female even though some of us don't even know what she looks like and could be a 55 year old 300 pound shut in. Not because American Teen set off our full of shit detectors and we were getting sick of all the praise and fawning this film has been getting in the media and certain quarters of the film community.

  • Aug. 10, 2008, 2:54 a.m. CST


    by geraldbeans

    thank you. I also say "no x 100" to this review. Trotsky, I also find it strange that this girl has never revealed what she looks like. I actually sense that the reason she doesn't like this film is probably because the girl she most easily identifies with (the artsy girl) is a lot more attractive than her. Either way, bullshit detectors on a film desperately trying to get noticed in a sea of films with 100x the marketing budgets when you have no clue yourself if the film is any good or not isn't exactly the best way to judge a film. I mean, I guess if your cup of tea is The Mummy Returns (again) and National Treasure 8, then you're right. You won't enjoy this. But if you like any good cinema at all, you'll like this movie. For every review like 300 pound gorilla woman's here, you'll find another gushing over it. Don't believe me? Go to rottentomatoes and read some yourself. A lot of these people are actually really respected critics who - gasp - loved the film because they weren't expecting Schindler's List High. The kind of critics that like the same movies as you do. They can't all be wrong, right?

  • Aug. 10, 2008, 8:11 a.m. CST

    Are American schools really this hellish?

    by Giant Ape Balls

  • Aug. 10, 2008, 8:40 a.m. CST

    geraldbeans, you are a douche

    by Drunken Rage

  • Aug. 10, 2008, 10:12 a.m. CST

    geraldbeans - you're a caveman.

    by ZeroCorpse

    So how a reviewer looks has something to do with the quality of their reviews? <p> Do you not say that about male reviewers, or do you think Roger Ebert, Richard Maltin, and Gene Shallot are hotties? <p> I'm betting it's the latter, you twat. <p> Reality shows suck, and "documentaries" that try to look, act, and sound like reality shows are contrived pieces of crap. <p> I'm usually the first to pick apart the positive talkback response DuPont's reviews, but you're being a douche about it, and so this time I have to side with DuPont and her supporters. This film looks like shit, and it's strictly for the under-30 crowd who were raised to think MTV's "reality" crap is quality entertainment. This is about two shades away from being "My Super Sweet Sixteen" or "The Real World".

  • Aug. 10, 2008, 11:12 a.m. CST

    Nice having you around so much these days, AdP.

    by PotSmokinAlien

    Always a pleasure.

  • Aug. 10, 2008, 12:54 p.m. CST

    I like it when AICN has credibility.

    by chiahead

    "it struck me as a movie in which a bunch of people walk around looking at stuff until they finally walk up to something that spins and flies away." <BR><BR>this totally kicks my ass.<BR><BR>Alexandra DuPont needs to write more on this site.

  • Aug. 10, 2008, 1:56 p.m. CST


    by geraldbeans

    uhhhh, okay? I'm not sure what your point was there but point taken? as for this stupid MTV comparison, how do you explain that I haven't watched an MTV show in over ten years and still liked this movie? Oh wait, let me guess. Cause "you're a douche". Clever argument. Come back when you have something to say. Next.

  • Aug. 10, 2008, 7:48 p.m. CST

    yes, that's what I thought

    by geraldbeans

    I will now only be engaging with people who have seen the movie. If you haven't seen the movie and you have decided it sucks because a third-rate critic on a movie website didn't like it, then you're an ignorant moron and not worth my time. I'll be happy to debate the movie with those who actually understand that which they're arguing about.

  • Aug. 11, 2008, 10:20 a.m. CST

    This movie sounds A LOT like a book written just a few years ago

    by rock-me Amodeo

    It was called Living Crazy Like Fly, and it was written by Caryn Suarez, and followed the lives of four teens in Warsaw Indiana.<br><br>What are the odds? Hmmm....

  • Aug. 11, 2008, 11:19 a.m. CST

    Hey they let ADP's review speak for

    by Borgnine JR

    itself rather than pile a crappy fawning introduction on top of it. Good move brohans! DuPont doesn't need your hype, just a forum.

  • Aug. 11, 2008, 2:40 p.m. CST

    From my talkback forensics I have deduced that geraldbeans has..

    by PsimonSez

    ...never seen any of the documentaries that garbageman posited to him. He did IMDB them and came up with ambiguous topics like, "...sad ending..." for HOOP DREAMS and " boring all I remember is brother dying..." from CRUMB. Get real. Yeah you have been posting for 3 years yet you act as if you know not of Ms. Dupont, our resident trustworthy reviewer who left us sometime back for greener pastures. (on that topic, do you write for Geek now Ms. Dupont? The illustrations is very similar to what is on AICN.) You come at zerocorpse with backward ass logic when he asked real questions, of which you did not respond to. I do have a real question for you: Could you please name me three documentaries that you feel are on the same level as the movie that Dupont reviewed here? And God help me if you list F is for Fake... Well since that is a good documentary you probably won't like it so I have no fear.

  • Aug. 11, 2008, 3:49 p.m. CST

    That's the thing, Psimonsez...

    by Garbageman33

    According to him, nothing is on par with American Teen. It's the single greatest documentary in the history of cinema.