American Teen - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

American Teen Reviews

April 6, 2015
This is not compelling film making; it just makes you hope that these kids will lighten up and learn to enjoy life.
Full Review | Original Score: 1.5/4
March 7, 2009
Funny and fresh, it won't break boundaries but it will make anyone thankful for growing up.
Read More | Original Score: 4/5
March 6, 2009
It's a lightly amusing film but it's also an unchallenging one which reinforces presumptions about kids rather than surprising with new insights. It floats in the shallow end of filmmaking.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/5
March 6, 2009
The documentary curriculum is sex, gossip and self-pity. Not exactly original, but disturbingly true.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
March 6, 2009
This film was for me marred by the persistent suspicion that the director wasn't being entirely straight with us.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/5
March 6, 2009
Burstein orchestrates their passage through school with some sympathy and no real revelations - except for the fact that she guesses, probably correctly, that most teenagers are nothing like as dangerous and bolshie as a lot of adults believe.
Read More | Original Score: 3/5
December 1, 2008
Either one of the most intimate and revealing documentaries ever made about the trials and tribulations of being a teenager in America or a clever fraud.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
November 21, 2008
My only gripe is that the relentless pressure to be a winner in American culture is exhausting to watch.
November 20, 2008
Several remarkable sequences illustrate just how oblivious some teens can be to the fact they are being recorded.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/5
October 18, 2008
Read More | Original Score: B
August 8, 2008
The whirl of hormones, high hopes and hysterical drama that is high school earns its close-up in American Teen, a smart and revealing look at the Class of 2006 in Warsaw, Indiana.
Read More | Original Score: 4/5
August 8, 2008
They all have their stories tell, some more complicated than others.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
August 7, 2008
American Teen finds the truth in the trite and the cliched: It's a wonderful look at why growing up is so hard to do.
Read More | Original Score: 3/4
August 1, 2008
A moving and engrossing slice-of-life documentary about teen life in small-town Warsaw, Ind.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
August 1, 2008
Eventually Burstein moves past these objections and slips under your skin.
Read More | Original Score: 3/4
August 1, 2008
American Teen shows how a documentary can be as moving and suspenseful as the best narrative feature.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
August 1, 2008
American Teen is The Breakfast Club in real time.
Full Review | Original Score: B+
August 1, 2008
This being senior year, Burstein can't help but capture some genuine drama, but there's a stage-managed quality to the movie that reminded me of MTV reality shows.
August 1, 2008
Consciously or not, the movie's about the way we structure our lives as drama if we want them to have any meaning at all.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
August 1, 2008
The doc seems a bit imitative itself, aping the slick manners of its poor cousin on the small screen -- reality TV.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
August 1, 2008
American Teen isn't as penetrating or obviously realistic as her On the Ropes, but Burstein (who won best director at Sundance 2008) has achieved an engrossing film.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
July 31, 2008
What makes Nanette Burstein's movie so powerful is its uncanny sense of familiarity. Watching them, we are transported into a humming, philosophical reverie about ourselves.
July 31, 2008
An appealing and unexpectedly moving snapshot of 17-year-olds on the tightrope between family and future.
Read More | Original Score: 3.5/4
July 31, 2008
Burstein may not know when to back off, but she's genuinely curious about all she sees. I bet audiences, particularly young audiences, will respond to this picture.
Read More | Original Score: 3/4
July 31, 2008
By the end of the film, you'll be firmly on the side of each of these kids, hoping the best for them.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
July 28, 2008
Compared to the contrived junk we see on MTV masquerading as a reality series, I think this is very authentic.
July 25, 2008
It's hard not to root for these teens.
July 25, 2008
Revealing, funny and involving.
Read More | Original Score: 3/4
July 25, 2008
You'll be totally riveted.
Read More | Original Score: 3/4
July 25, 2008
For adults, it's also, possibly, a wake-up call. Do we really put that much pressure on our children? Are we really that insensitive?
Read More | Original Score: 3.5/4
July 25, 2008
Ultra-slick and predictable.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
July 25, 2008
In Nanette Burstein's high school documentary, every kid is either a brain, an athlete, a basket case or a princess. Still, Burstein makes a strong case that there's a lot of truth to those clichés.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
July 25, 2008
Fascinating, queasy-making new documentary. The fascination comes from how unguarded these young people seem to be about their own lives, speaking frankly to the camera and allowing it to observe uncomfortable and intimate moments in their lives.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
July 25, 2008
The kids' mistakes make you cringe -- often with laughs of recognition -- and, during the film's most involving moments, makes you long to comfort them through their trials and cheer on their triumphs.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
July 25, 2008
Burstein does indeed capture some of the awkwardnesses that we can all relate to -- the dating scene, the snubs, the cliques, the bad behavior.
Full Review | Original Score: B-
July 24, 2008
Our appetite for watching young people do silly, overly sincere, and sometimes brave things has been slaked by the glut of junk-food TV shows on the subject.
Read More | Original Score: C+
July 24, 2008
It's easy for anyone who survived (or is surviving) high school to feel twinges of identification.
Read More | Original Score: B+
July 24, 2008
Nothing is revealed here, save for the sad fact that while young people's appetite for nonfiction film was supposed to be whetted by reality television, nonfiction film instead has turned into reality television.
Read More | Original Score: 2/4
July 24, 2008
The players are timelessly familiar in American Teen. But filmmaker Nanette Burstein tells their stories with a distinctly 21st-century pop and audacity that makes this latest version of Fast Times at My So-Called Happy Days High a timely pleasure.
Full Review | Original Score: A-
July 24, 2008
At what point does the filming of kids behaving immaturely become an invasion of privacy, even if parents signed consent forms?
Full Review | Original Score: 5/10
July 23, 2008
Ms. Burstein has infused her film with an ever-rare authenticity and manages to see beyond each kid's stereotype to the complicated screwed-up adolescent they are (and we were).
July 23, 2008
Except for some obvious staging on Burstein's part, their ups and downs, doubts and dreams, all feel vividly real. Well, at least more real than anything you see on The Hills.
July 21, 2008
The movie does get under your skin, but the way it has been put together reminds me of those animal shows where the crew nudges the gazelles in the direction of the lions with multiple cameras standing by.
July 8, 2008
This kind of production is better suited to television than movie theaters. American Teen is a pretty bauble: shiny and alluring from a distance but cheap and plastic when you get close.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
January 31, 2008
Fun and facile in much the same way reality TV is. You may have a good time, but you'll hate yourself in the morning.
January 22, 2008
Undeniably entertaining for its zippy presentation.