American Teen

An early poster for this documentary about high schoolers spoofed the well-known advertising for The Breakfast Club (1985), with the subjects posed like the characters in the John Hughes comedy. They seem to have been posed that way on-screen as well. Filmmaker Nanette Burstein (The Kid Stays in the Picture) screened every incoming senior in tiny Warsaw, Indiana, and the five kids she selected to follow around for a year are stereotyped to fit the high school castes (there's a nerd, a prom queen, a rebel, a jock, and—this being Indiana—another jock). The impulse to steer the story begins to infect the kids as well; humiliated over a breakup, sensitive Hannah Bailey retreats into her bedroom for weeks but still welcomes the camera crew. This being senior year, Burstein can't help but capture some genuine drama, but there's a stage-managed quality to the movie that reminded me of MTV reality shows. PG-13, 101 min.

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