American Teen

Metascore
66

Generally favorable reviews - based on 29 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 29
  2. Negative: 1 out of 29

Where To Watch

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Critic Reviews

  1. For all of its access and exposure, American Teen seems skin-deep. It's well shot, with good production values and lots of cool music. But it's fun and facile in much the same way reality TV is.
  2. Reviewed by: Dennis Harvey
    60
    Undeniably entertaining for its zippy presentation.
  3. The movie does get under your skin (the tremulous misfit girl, Hannah, might be a breakout role model), but the way it has been put together reminds me of those animal shows where the crew nudges the gazelles in the direction of the lions with multiple cameras standing by.
  4. 60
    This is the kind of movie the people in it might have made, which means that its revelatory power as an investigation of teenage life in America is limited.
  5. The kids here do come across as genuine people, struggling with issues everyone can understand.
  6. Reviewed by: Bob Mondello
    50
    The students all say and do more than they should in the filmmaker's presence, which certainly makes them watchable -- sort of a slow-motion train wreck.
  7. 50
    The poster art for Nanette Burstein's American Teen, which follows five students through their senior year at a high school in Indiana, is modeled after the one for "The Breakfast Club." So, to a large extent, is this ultra-slick and predictable documentary.
  8. Here are casual cruelty, crushing heartbreak and pressure from parents and peers, all of which can involve the viewer but are nothing revelatory.
  9. 50
    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.
  10. Unsurprisingly, the formulaic "Breakfast Club" casting yields a formulaic narrative.
User Score
7.3

Generally favorable reviews- based on 6 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 5
  2. Negative: 0 out of 5
  1. AnthonyK.
    Dec 30, 2008
    5
    Not good, not good at all. Were it not a (completely scripted) "documentary", this would be the most unremarkable film of the year. As it Not good, not good at all. Were it not a (completely scripted) "documentary", this would be the most unremarkable film of the year. As it stands, it's still pretty unremarkable. Don't waste your time. Full Review »
  2. JayH.
    Dec 16, 2008
    7
    Fascinating documentary, and gives a very insightful look at American teenagers. It makes you think and you do care about the teens in the Fascinating documentary, and gives a very insightful look at American teenagers. It makes you think and you do care about the teens in the story. I do question the sincerity, it seems a little odd that these teens do some of the things they do on camera, particularly acts of vandalism. Full Review »
  3. DaleM
    Sep 8, 2008
    5
    This movie claims to be a documentary but felt contrived. Are we supposed to imagine these people don't notice the camera? Are they This movie claims to be a documentary but felt contrived. Are we supposed to imagine these people don't notice the camera? Are they hamming it up as they do in reality TV or are they rehashing the past or are they reading from a script? The characters come off all too often as stereotypes. Take away the idea that the film is a documentary and you are left with a boring and failed attempt to be American Graffiti for the present decade. Full Review »