Sleepover is a bizarre movie. Even taking into account that it’s a teen chick flick type of movie it’s just straight up one of the weirdest I’ve seen. And this one even had a theatrical release! The movie stars Alexa Vega (later one of the leads in Spy Kids) as Julie Corky, a Middle School grade student. It’s the last day of school and her best friend Hannah is going to be moving away and so won’t be attending the same high school as everyone else. To put a pin in the year Julie arranges a sleepover with Hannah and two other girls, Farrah and Yancy.
Before the sleepover Julie spends some time admiring the high school’s meager lunch spot — nothing more than a fountain and some nearby picnic tables. Some of these tables are close to trash dumpsters, cleverly angled so that nobody can see the heaps of Sleepover DVDs filling to them to brim. It’s there they spot Steve Phillips, a cool skateboarder type, and the object of Julie’s affections. One more thing to note, the High School dance is also that night.
During the set-up there is a tonally strange scene involving Stacie, the leader of the “mean girl” group of girls, and her boyfriend Todd. He picks her up to go to the High School dance, which he can get her into as he is in high school, then says they won’t go to the dance and instead begins sexually harassing her. After he leaves her in the middle of nowhere she has a masterplan to get her group of friends to challenge Julie’s group of friends to a scavenger hunt for some reason? The prize? The “cool” lunch spot at high school. That’s just the area furthest from the dumpsters. There are two issues with this though. Firstly, there will be more than eight (well, seven discounting Hannah) students at the high school. They have zero authority to offer the spot as a prize. Furthermore couldn’t somebody just ask the school admin to move the dumpsters further away? Surely it’s a health hazard, and there is plenty of space further away.
The scavenger list is weird. Four challenges ranging from mundane (dressing an Old Navy mannequin in their own clothes) to creepy and strange (meeting up with an online date at a nightclub, stealing Steve Phillips’ boxers). Keep in mind these girls must be 13 or 14. The most reasonable challenge involves stealing the insignia for a private security firm that polices their neighborhood.
As usual there needs to be a shoutout to some of the adult casting in Sleepover. It’s a terrible movie, but there are some A class actors in here, though most of them phone it in. Jane Lynch and Jeff Garlin play Julie’s parents. Steve Carrel plays the the security guard from the private firm who the girls harass and evade throughout the night. Even Summer Glau is in this, in an unbelievable scene where Julie tells Glau how terrible her life must be and that she needs to help them so she won’t become lame like her — and she actually wins her over. A special mention needs to go to Sam Huntington, who plays Julie’s brother who’s meant to be at college. He sounds like Nicholas Cage, and acts the hell out of his bizarre scenes, including one when he gorges himself on pizza with a dog. Most of his scenes are two handers with the dog, and presumably were filmed in isolation from most of the terrible movie. He is easily the highlight of the movie.
The dating website they use, DatesSafe.com, is a nightmarish creation. It claims to be the “safe fun way to meet people”. A terrifyingly large police badge is next to the logo calling it “police approved”. They find a date, and so begins a terrible, terrible sequence of bad ideas that would likely end up with one of them dead or missing in real life. There are no good lessons to be learned from this movie. A school teacher agrees to get his picture taken with one of the schoolgirls he teaches while in a nightclub. Yancy is approached by an older man while sitting alone outside the back of the nightclub and is won over by him. Children routinely break into each others houses and go through their things, and it’s all like it’s no big deal
Julie is way too good at disappearing from shots too. As soon as the camera isn’t on her she silently blends into the night. This comes in most useful during the sequence where she breaks into Steve’s house and has to stealth her way through it to steal his underwear. Which she does, creepily watching him undress beforehand while hiding in the shower. Imagine that, someone watching you right now, while you’re completely unaware. It’s something out of a horror movie. Later on Steve finds out about the scavenger hunt, and just goes “oh, that’s where my underwear went”, and shrugs it off. Someone was in your house without you knowing and stole your stuff! That is terrifying, Steve. Steve!
It all just feels so contrived. Nobody would be okay with that as Steve is. Everything in this film, every little thing, only happens because the script needs to get to the next part. No lead character is believable, no event or situation is believable. It’s an absolute unenjoyable mess (barring Huntington’s scenes). Even Steve Carrel phones this one in, with only one or two funny lines. We’re meant to be rooting for Julie and her friends but they are absolutely unlikable, with the possible exception of Yancy, who is just too naive to know better, and Farrah, who has zero screen presence.
On the other hand the “antagonist”, Stacie, is going through some serious shit. Todd was using her, and threw her away. He threatens to ruin her reputation, and make her upcoming high school life hellish. She doesn’t even set the terms of the scavenger hunt. She only wanted to offer them thongs if they managed to win, but Hannah has to raise the stakes to the lunch spot. They even harass her about the Todd situation later. She acts a little superior, sure, but there’s no need to be needlessly cruel to her.
Sleepover isn’t even a movie that is that enjoyable to watch knowing it’s bad, but it’s so absurd that you might find some novelty in the new ways it finds to be absolutely terrible. There is no way anybody should be watching this, least of all the target demographic. In many ways this film is actively poisonous. I’ve seen worse, but not by much.