Review by Harvey Karten
1½ stars out of 4
When a theater critic begins a review by praising the set
design, you know that the play is in trouble. When a movie critic
grants kudos first to the dog, you know that the film is in trouble.
The best performer in Joe Nussbaum's pic in Chopper the dog,
an adorable, medium-height mixed terrier, who is more adept at
walking with high-heel shoes than some women and who, unlike
others of his ilk, has to be coaxed to eat a pizza.
In other words, "Sleepover" is a snooze.
Designed, it seems, mostly to showcase the talent of its
upcoming principal actress, Alexa Vega ("Spy Kids") in the role
a fourteen-year-old pre-high-school freshman Julie, "Sleepover"
follows the bold adventure of a quartet of friends who pretend to
be having a girls-only pajama party but who instead have what's
called the adventure of their lives. Which is? To go on a
scavenger hunt initiated by one of the school's pretty but mean
popular girl, Staci (Sara Paxton), whose job other than naming
the articles that must be recovered (such as the handsomest
boy's boxer shorts) is to emulate the looks and mannerisms of
Reese Witherspoon. Unfortunately there's nobody in the cast
who can challenged the champs of the teenybopper genre,
Hilary Duff and Lindsay Lohan.
As for the prize offered to the girls who can first dig up the
articles, they get to eat lunch at the "fountain" table in the
cafeteria rather than by the dumpster. Will anyone in the
audience believe that in the posh, Southern Cal location of the
action, a table for nerds would be situated right next to the
As typical in stories of this subgenre, the parents and teachers
are all idiots, especially if they try to act like their offspring or
students, the kids divided between the smart but unpopular folks
and the starlets who are mean and pretty. For example, Julie's
dad (Jeff Garlin) is given the job of babysitting the slumber party
and makes himself useful by working on purifying the water in
the kitchen sink, while Mom (Jane Lynch) is acting mid-life crisis
by going clubbing with a friend. (We catch the materfamilias
dancing on a table appearing under the influence.) The town's
rent-a-cop played by Steve Carell is a bumbler and the kids'
teacher could get into serious trouble if a snapshot taken of him
with Julie at his side in a nightclub is released.
There's not a heck of a lot of wit, charm or originality in this
Copyright © 2004 Harvey Karten