The "Spy Kids" series (except for the third one) was highly entertaining and funny - vibrant enough to capture the attention of kids, while also clever enough to entertain adults. Now, Alexa Vega, who starred in the "Kids" series, has tried to go it on her own in her first starring role and, unfortunately, she didn't exactly make the finest choice. "Sleepover", directed by Joe Nussbaum (whose short "George Lucas In Love" I remember liking, but remember no details of - don't know what that says about it), is an impressively generic offering for 'tweeners - that crowd that isn't ready for teen films, but feels they're too old for kiddie fare.
The film stars Vega as Julie, one of a pack of friends who is about to enter high school. She's accompanied by Hannah (Mika Boorem), who is moving to Canada (eh?); Farrah (Scout Taylor-Compton) and the plump Yancy (Kallie Flynn Childress), who remains upset about her weight. A smarter film could try and take down the sort of Glamour mag imagery that is forced upon teenage girls today and how they unfortunately often feel they have to live up to those images, but gee, there's a scavenger hunt to be done.
The "snotty popular girl" Stacie (Sara Paxton) comes over, announcing that there's a scavenger hunt starting, and that the winning team will be allowed to sit at the popular table at lunch next semester, while the losers will have to sit by the dumpster. Why they will have to sit by the dumpster and just not sit at the popular table is beyond me, but who cares...er, I mean, knows? So, after Julie's mom Gabby (Jane Lynch) leaves the house and dad Jay (Jeff Garlin, continuing to make really odd choices between starring on HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm") remains too clueless to realize that the girls have left the house and are out on the town. Also slumming is "Daily Show"'s often-brilliant Steve Carrell, who looks embarassed as a local cop.
Despite being marketed to that late child/early teen demographic, there's some pretty suggestive moments and some sequences (such as the girls sneaking into a nightclub) that are a little much for a film geared otherwise towards a younger audience. The performances by the leads range from fair to mediocre, and the film's look and soundtrack seem to be more along the lines of direct-to-TV fare. Despite the fact that he's obviously working with cheesy, low-grade material, the picture doesn't get (intentional) laughs, resulting in a film that feels much longer than its 90 minutes.
VIDEO: "Sleepover" is presented by MGM in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The film itself isn't much to look at, but MGM presents it all quite acceptably on this transfer. Sharpness and detail are generally quite good, as the picture appears crisp, clear and film-like, with no edge enhancement to be seen. Problems do show, however - there's a little bit of pixelation and a speck or two on the print used. Colors remained bright and vivid, with nice saturation and no smearing.
SOUND: "Sleepover" is presented by MGM in Dolby Digital 5.1. Given the soundmix, you'd think the movie was a promo for the soundtrack. The film's generic rock/pop score comes across so strong and loud and sudden that it requires one to turn the volume up and down throughout. Surrounds are occasionally put to use throughout the film, but the majority of the pic is dialogue-driven. Audio quality is fine, as everything seems unpleasantly clear.
EXTRAS: director Nussbaum, actress Alexa Vega and actresses Scout Taylor-Compton,Mika Boorem, and Kallie Flynn Childress. There's also featurettes, interviews, a gag reel, the trailer and more.
Final Thoughts: "Sleepover" is a dull, pointless teen comedy that offers bland performances and little successful humor. MGM's DVD provides fine audio/video quality and supplements, but I'd still recommend skipping this one.