Generally favorable reviews - based on 29 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 29
  2. Negative: 1 out of 29
  1. Shows how a documentary can be as moving and suspenseful as the best narrative feature.
  2. 100
    The documentary American Teen is the most realistic movie you will see all summer.
  3. The players are timelessly familiar in American Teen, too. But filmmaker Nanette Burstein tells their stories with a distinctly 21st-century pop and audacity.
  4. Reviewed by: Zack Haddad
    Never has a film captured the spirit of being a teenager better.
  5. So authentic are the subjects, so raw their emotions.
  6. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    The kids are real and their stories enthralling: When it comes to drama, there's nothing quite like high school.
  7. 83
    Though it's compelling enough as soap opera, American Teen digs deeply into why kids grudgingly accept the roles they've been given and the brutal consequences that come with straying outside the lines.
User Score

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
    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
    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
    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 »