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American Teen

Year: 2008
Production Co: 57th & Irving Productions
Director: Nanette Burstein
Producer: Nanette Burstein
Writer: Nanette Burstein
A 'docudrama' - not a documentary, mind (more later) - about a random selection of small town US high school students, purporting to be a sort of Grand Unified theory of American adolescence in the modern world.

It's a fair idea, but it fails almost completely for two reasons. The first is that with only a little thought one realises how staged the whole thing is, and not just because of the terrible continuity. How much is anyone's guess. Maybe it was scripted down to the individual words, maybe the 'performers' were told which direction to ad-lib in, drama class-style.

The second problem is a direct result of the first. It's the Breakfast Club template all over again, the same tired stereotypes given a little window dressing for Generation Y, but a glance back at even your own teenage years will remind you that nobody so fully fits into the archetypal moulds of jock, prom queen, basket case, etc.

Treat it like a slightly more realistic film-length episode of Beverly Hills 90210 and you might get a reality TV-like giggle. But believe a single word of it at your peril.

Of course, part of my dislike might be my ever-present impatience with self-involved teenagers who've never had to pay a mortgage or raise kids themselves being so wrapped up in their infinitesimal little dramas and five-minute heartbreaks.

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