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American Teen
DVD disk
Dec 22, 2008 By: Mathew Plale
American Teen order
Director:
Nanette Burstein

Actors:
Hannah Bailey
Megan Krizmanich
Jake Tusing

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Nanette Burstein follows a group of high schoolers from their first day as seniors to graduation in this Sundance competitor.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
In American Teen, documentarian Nanette Burstein (The Kid Stays in the Picture) follows the senior year of five students attending Warsaw Community High School: Hannah (the rebel), Colin (the jock), Megan (the prom queen), Mitch (the heartthrob), and Jake (the geek).

But whether you consider it a documentary remake of The Breakfast Club or an episode of True Life: I’m a High School Stereotype, there’s nothing all that remarkable about the subject. They walk and talk just as John Hughes told us they do. This has led some—myself included—to question to authenticity of Burstein’s film. It feels staged and I think most of it is—though Burstein and her cast insist otherwise. But the target audience (ie. those tuning into The Hills every week) probably won’t mind, just so long as they get their dose of drama and OMG.

Tracking the students from their first day to graduation, we get to know them pretty well and even start to pull for most of them and their dreams: Hannah to be a filmmaker, Colin to win the basketball scholarship, Megan to get accepted into Notre Dame, video gamer Jake to save the princess in Level 12. And Mitch? Well, he’s a wasted subject, prominent only as “the guy who dates Hannah for 15 minutes.”

And that’s about it. Of course, things happen, like when some chase shots of rum with root beer whilst playing Truth or Dare, or when one student’s topless pics get plastered all over the Internet; but MTV’s had that ground covered for years now.

American Teen might be a good opportunity for some to sympathize with the types they ignore or taunt. But others won’t need a documentary to confirm that their Princess Megan really was a bitch.
THE EXTRAS
Pop Quiz: Cast Interviews (4:12): The five central students sit down to answer a series of questions, such as how they got involved with the project, what their friends and family think of the film, and the most important lesson they learned. The students come off as much more uncomfortable than they did during the documentary.

Deleted Scenes: There are six here, which can be viewed separately or as a bunch. Some (the hunt for prom dates) hit, while others (Jake’s prolonged and awkward goodnight kiss; applying facemasks) miss.

Hannah Blogs (18:49): There are ten here, with Hannah gabbing about her dog, “the perfect guy” (Rupert Grint?!), the perfect date (man drives, bowls, and stargazes), her various crushes, her passion for filmmaking, and much more. Hannah’s my favorite of the documentary’s subjects, but this qualifies as overkill.

Rounding out the disc are Character Trailers and Previews.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
American Teen has its audience. I don't fit the demographic, but others (MTV lovers) will, and will undoubtedly get a kick out of the subjects.
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