Sleepover is basically Sixteen Candles for the new cell-phoned ‘tween set. A hot, practically mute high schooler risks his hard-earned cred to woo a suddenly desirable younger girl whose quest for cool drives the predictably picaresque plot—here, four sweet eighth-graders take on their posher peers in a law-breaking scavenger hunt whose winners get the best lunch seats freshman year. Departing from the John Hughes formula, Sleepover‘s post-Buffy heroine, Spy Kids‘s Alexa Vega, earns her popularity badges and male affections not with mopey teen disillusionment and new wave, but with gumption and skateboarding tricks (although the diabolically red dress and heels don’t hurt). Still, director Joe Nussbaum’s attempt to capture the ‘tween zeitgeist fails: The Spice Girls–infused soundtrack is dated, and the feel-good progressiveness forced (the token chubbette, likably played by Kallie Flynn Childress, gets a man). And despite repeated assertions that “we’re not talking about lunch spots here,” these self-possessed girls should have better things to do.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 6, 2004