Sunday, July 27, 2008

American Teen

Today I went to my local fine arts cinema to see a special screening of the documentary "American Teen." The screening was followed by a special Q&A session with three of the five subjects of the movie. The movie follows the lives of five teenagers during their senior year in high school in the small community of Warsaw, Indiana. The kids are Colin, the jock; Hannah, the artsy rebel; Megan, the popular mean girl; Mitch, the sweet heartthrob; and Jake, the band geek. The five are typical teens dealing with the typical high school insecurities of first loves, heartbreaks, cliques, and basically just surviving four years of angst.

Each of the kid's respective storylines is compelling and you are drawn to these five young people and their trials, fears, hopes and dreams. Colin is the captain of the basketball team, whose main focus during senior year is to get noticed by scouts because without a basketball scholarship for college its the army for him. Megan is the popular mean girl who seemingly makes herself feel better by hurting others. She could be straight out of "Mean Girls" or "Heathers", but just when you have her figured out, you find out a truth which just might (maybe a little) explain why she is the way she is. Mitch is the hunky basketball player who all the girls drool over, and who falls for Hannah. Jake is the lonely band geek who dreams of having a girlfriend and makes it his mission to find one before senior year is over. Lastly, Hannah, I think the key person in the movie, is the quirky rebel who feels that she just doesn't fit in, who dreams of moving to California and becoming a film-maker.

As you watch the film you forget its a documentary, because it plays like a script from any of the old John Hughes teen films of the 80s, the most obvious one of course being "The Breakfast Club." The movie was very touching and by the end you really care about what happened to each of the kids. Luckily, there's a blurb on each of the kids at the end, right before the credits so you don't leave the theater wondering. You'll also find yourself taking a little trip down memory lane as you watch the movie, because it draws you back to your own high school memories--good or bad--whichever it maybe for you. Watching and remembering all those high school insecurities which seemed to be the most important things in the world at the time, all I could think was thank God thats over. As for the movie, I loved it! I laughed, I cried, and laughed and cried some more.

The Q&A session following the screening was also great because it gave you the chance to see and hear about how much each of them has grown and matured--especially Megan--since the movie was filmed.