Who doesn't like to peer into the world of trailer parks and see how that section of the world lives? Director Jordan Brady brings a tale of an all too familiar broken home with more than its fair share of crisis. Jena Malone plays Rena Grubb, a teenager abused in a very tragic way by her boyfriend from the right side of the tracks played by Erik von Detten, in this supposedly dark comedy. You won't find yourself with much to laugh at, as the movie opens with Rena not once but twice trying to take her own life(obviously unsuccessful). Rena lives with her sexually confused brother Jay(played by Brad Renfro), her mother (Michelle Forbes) who is struggling to keep her family afloat while her husband is serving two consecutive life sentences in the penitentiary up the road from the trailer park. Also living with this family is the dope smoking, trouble starting Barbie, played by Alicia Witt as a very convincing trailer park tramp.
For the most part, each actor played their part quite well, especially Jena Malone who had to play a tormented pregnant teen who hasn't seen her father in years. Her multiple attempts at suicide were believable and obviously cries for help, but she portrayed them in a way that made you sympathetic and care about her. Her father on the other hand was over acted and was more a caricature of the person he was supposed to be; an uncaring, selfish man. One seen in particular really drives home part of the theme when Rena was talking to her father about a potential name for the child, and Mr. Grubb was far more interested in tossing the football with his inmate pals. When Rena finally understood this she said she might name the child Russell Up, playing on the last name of the family.
For something billed as a dark comedy, I didn't feel that there was too much to laugh at because of how tragic things are. Rena is abused, Jay doesn't fully grasp that he is in fact a homosexual, Barbie epitomizes trailer trash, and the mother is trying desperately to do what's right for her family, only to be held back by a man who's been removed from her life. Some lighter moments did occur, such as the inmate three-legged shackle race, and a brief chuckle was heard when the starting pistol went off for this race and all the inmates drop to the ground and cover their head.
Confessions of an American Teenager is presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The transfer is not as clean as one would hope these days, as a fair amount of dust and grain were present. Also, a noticeable number of flashing bright spots were present in the transfer.
The image otherwise seemed to be otherwise an average transfer, with no real highlights to speak of. Some colors as well as the film itself seemed a little on the soft side.
Confessions is contains a single audio track, which is a two channel stereo English. For Jena Malone fans who are not English speakers, well…let's hope that you can read Spanish or French, as those are the two alternate language subtitles that are also included in this release.
The sound really couldn't have benefit much from being in 5.1, as the majority of what was heard was dialog and would have then been restricted to the center channel. Other than dialog, some other trailer park type sounds were present, such as trailer doors slamming and the neighbors yelling at one another, we adequately routed to the appropriate channel by the Pro-Logic II decoding algorithm. It did help envelope me in the otherwise sparse sounding movie for those few times the sound came from elsewhere in the room.
No extras related to the movie are included on this release. The closest you get to an extra here is the handful of trailers for other MGM movies including Saved! and Code 46.
Originally released at the Austin Film festival in 2002, this movie has waited for quite a while before being released domestically. That being said, there really is nothing wrong with this movie, but I can see how that it would not appeal to a very large group especially given its plot. As a movie itself, Confessions is a decent alternative from a lot of the teen movies that we see out in recent times, but not quite on par with films that get general release.
I'd rate this movie as a rental, at best. With no supplemental features to extend the life of it, and an average movie the only real reason one would buy this is if they are a huge fan of one or more of the cast and just feel the need to add it to their collection.