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MGM Studios DVD presents
Sleepover (2004)

Julie: Do you know what happens to girls who start high school with no best friend, no guy, and low social standing? Nothing, Nothing ever happens to them.
Hannah: But look at it this way. You have the whole summer to revise your image.
Julie: I never truly had an image, did I?
Hannah: Start now.

- Alexa Vega, Mika Boorem

Review By: David Krauss   
Published: January 11, 2005

Stars: Alexa Vega, Mika Boorem, Jane Lynch, Sara Paxton, Brie Larson, Steve Carell, Jeff Garlin
Director: Joe Nussbaum

MPAA Rating: PG for thematic elements involving teen dating, some sensuality, and language
Run Time: 01h:29m:22s
Release Date: November 23, 2004
UPC: 027616911957
Genre: comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C+ CA-B+ B

DVD Review

At a slumber party celebrating their graduation from eighth grade, a group of 'tween girls accepts the challenge of a high-stakes scavenger hunt from a quartet of snooty beauty queens. The winners will nab the primo high school lunch spot near the picturesque fountain, while the losers will sit with all the nerds and rejects by the dumpster. With such critical social standing at stake, both teams vigorously attack their list of tasks, which includes dressing store mannequins in their own clothes and stealing the boxers of the school's resident hunk—who just happens to send sweet but feisty Julie (Alexa Vega) into a dead swoon. Hot on the girls' tail is Sherman (Steve Carell), a hapless neighborhood security guard, and Julie's suspicious mom (Jane Lynch), who forbade her daughter and her guests to leave the house.

Such is the plot of Sleepover, a frenzied, frivolous, and often foolish 'tween comedy that promises way more than it delivers. In its depiction of female teen warfare, Joe Nussbaum's tedious romp treads much the same territory as Mean Girls, but states its case in a far more infantile manner. Slapstick antics supercede character development at every turn, and edgy situations are maddeningly sugar-coated. Of course, screenwriter Elisa Bell is no Tina Fey, and her disjointed screenplay contains some of the most wretched dialogue this side of an ABC Afterschool Special. Bell tries her best to employ as much teen lingo as possible, but it rarely sounds natural, as she saddles her characters with awkward, often ridiculous lines. A few touching moments—especially those involving overweight Yancy (Kallie Flynn Childress) and her first hint of romance—alleviate the idiocy somewhat, but, sadly, never obliterate it. Instead, we're treated to an adult's warped impression of what the teen world is like, and it just doesn't work.

Nussbaum, who garnered attention for his 1999 short film George Lucas in Love, keeps the film moving and possesses a pleasing visual style, but like so many promising young directors, he's handcuffed by his lame material. One can only hope his next project—if he's offered one—possesses more meat.

Now that she's graduated from the Spy Kids franchise, Vega seems poised to tackle more mature roles, and although Sleepover might not have been the wisest career move, her winning sincerity helps make the film bearable. She seems a bit self-conscious at times, but in such a brainless farce, who wouldn't? Though she's no Lindsay Lohan (at least not yet), Vega's future looks bright, as long as she avoids more drivel like this. Her partners in crime are all competent teen actors, but none (with the exception of Mika Boorem) exude anything close to star quality, and seem like they'd be more at home on a Nickelodeon sitcom.

In a role tailor-made for Eugene Levy or Jeffrey Jones, Carell mugs and rants with annoying predictability, while Jeff Garlin lumbers about as the stereotypically oblivious (and overweight) dad. Only Lynch shines as the wild-child mom who seeks to suppress in her daughter the rebellious urges she knows so well.

Sleepover isn't the worst teen comedy I've seen, but it's far from the best. Although my 11-year-old daughter enjoyed it more than I, even she recognized its shortcomings. A smarter script might have salvaged this madcap mess, but I'd hate to put money on it.

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: C

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Like most recent releases, Sleepover's widescreen anamorphic transfer remains razor sharp from beginning to end, sporting excellent contrast, nice color saturation, and no evidence of edge enhancement. Fleshtones look natural, and not a single speck or scratch dots the pristine print.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0French, Spanishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The DD 5.1 track covers all the bases, with crystal clear dialogue, subtle but noticeable surround effects, and fine presence and depth. The music selections enjoy especially good fidelity, even if the songs sound rather generic.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 32 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
8 Other Trailer(s) featuring Legally Blonde 2, Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London, Hi-5, Uptown Girls, Good Boy!, Agent Cody Banks, Legally Blonde, The Legend of Johnny Lingo
7 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director Joe Nussbaum and actresses Alexa Vega, Mika Boorem, Scout Taylor-Compton, and Kallie Flynn Childress
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual
Layers Switch: 58m:59s

Extra Extras:
  1. Gag reel
  2. Behind-the-Scenes Photo Gallery
Extras Review: The Sleepover DVD is packed with enough extras to keep your 'tween girl out of trouble for quite some time, but unfortunately, they're just as silly as the film. First up is an annoying giggle-fest (better known as an audio commentary), featuring director Joe Nussbaum and actresses Alexa Vega, Mika Boorem, Scout Taylor-Compton, and Kallie Flynn Childress. For 89 grating minutes, the girls shriek, squeal, interrupt, and talk over one another as they reminisce about gorging themselves on fried Twinkies and kissing their co-stars. Vega even confesses that she gags whenever she eats French fries. (Like we need to know that!) Nussbaum can barely get a word in edgewise, yet still valiantly tries to referee this disjointed, vacuous track. If I had a dollar for every time someone said "awesome," I'd be a rich man.

A Guide to the Perfect Sleepover is a standard making-of featurette that blends cast and director interviews with film clips and behind-the-scenes shots. Segments on casting, story, music, and stunts flesh out the 10-minute piece, in which everyone remembers the film as so much fun! Up next is Meet the Girls, a collection of brief (two minutes or less) profiles of Vega, Boorem, Taylor-Compton, and Childress, in which they comment on their respective characters and their experiences making the film.

Ready, Set, Action! runs a mere 90 seconds, and shows the girls goofing around backstage, mugging for the cameras, and posing for stills, while the three-and-a-half-minute Sleepover Confessions allows the cast and crew the opportunity to recall their own wild-and-crazy sleepover experiences, both during the film and—in the case of the adults—when they were kids.

A five-minute gag reel presents an array of typical flubs, none of which are particularly amusing, and a Behind-the-Scenes Photo Gallery contains 40-odd color shots, ranging from studio portraits to scene stills to production photos. The film's original theatrical trailer and previews for eight other MGM family films round out the extras package.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

Sleepover will cause parents to cringe and boys to roll their eyes, but it should satisfy almost any 'tween girl, with its focus on friends, rebellion, and burgeoning hormones. A slick transfer and more extras than a dud like this deserves make the disc a perfect rental for your little darling's next slumber party. Just keep all the doors locked.

 


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