Suspended in Time
Why Can't Hollywood Graduate to a Bigger Picture Of High School Life?
Sunday, July 27, 2008; Page M01
We're stuck in the library in Shermer, Ill.
Mr. Vernon pops in every half-hour to bark at us, set us straight. We're still a brain, a beauty, a jock, a rebel and a recluse, and we're not allowed to talk ourselves out of it. We glance at the clock. Half past 2008. We've been here for 23 years, since "The Breakfast Club" mashed high school archetypes into its crucible. We're still trying to figure out, first, who we are and, after growing up, who the high-schoolers of today are.
Now comes a movie called "American Teen" out this Friday. Not just a movie. A high-profile documentary, one that had the Sundance Film Festival crowd on its feet, cheering, in January. This is it, we think. This is the film that will sidestep the faux-realness of "Superbad" and "Juno," that will enter and capture the soul of the American high-schooler in the third millennium, that will show us the rawness of our current reality. So we zip up our backpacks, ready for deliverance from Dick Vernon's library. Instead, we watch the trailer and our hearts sink. Title cards are thrown on the screen between quick shots of student life in Warsaw, Ind.
THE JOCK, at the free-throw line.
THE GEEK, walking an empty hallway.
THE REBEL, painting, in a pink ski hat.
THE PRINCESS, on her bed, under an Abercrombie & Fitch poster.
THE HEARTTHROB, pumping gas, smiling.
Then the trailer, with big white letters on a black background, asks us this question, one word at a time: