American Teen

American Teen (2008)

Jesus, some kids are real dicks, and the worst of the kids in this film really take the cake for sadist, selfish, narcissistic, insensitive behaviour.

However, director Nanette Burstein works the story hard to rehabilitate the worst offenders in her cast of jocks, outsiders, drama queens, and oddballs. I had a mostly shitty time at high school, but I couldn't imagine the added anguish that social media injects into the teenage milieu; already with skin rubbed raw from acne and anxiety, kids today have to worry about getting dumped by text message or having intimate images shared to all and sundry. Burnstein doesn't paint a wholly negative picture of her subjects... most of her featured players have fleshed out motivations and aspirations, and a few seem like reasonable adults already. I just wonder what the effort to tell a coherent story did to knock off the jagged edges of uncertainty and ambiguity I found to characterise my years as a teenage weirdo. Back then it wasn't cool to be a nerd.

Conversation starters

  • "You're not special." Wow, there are some really shitty parents in Warsaw, Indiana.
  • How many times did Jake Tusing get dumped on camera? Poor guy!
  • I'm glad I'm not 16, but boy does 25 to 40 go fast!

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