t's early yet, but Nanette Burstein's ultra-slick "American Teen" just may win the "Frat House" award this year for a documentary so highly worked, so packed with high dramatic incidents among classic character types that a skeptical viewer may well wonder just how freely direction and editing sculpted real life into something more like ... well, "The Real World." Undeniably entertaining for its zippy presentation, not to mention the rooting/hissing value assigned various principals, pic is a broadcast natural. And despite credibility issues, boisterous aud response at Sundance and apparent distrib bidding frenzy should lead to theatrical exposure.
Feature charts a year in the lives of four high school seniors in primarily white, middle-class Warsaw, Ind. -- albeit with all the boring and routine parts mysteriously absent from edited-within-an-inch-of-its-life package.
Hannah proudly considers herself (along with a sexually ambiguous best male friend) an arty, unconventional misfit amid the "total caste system" of their vanilla environ.
She's glad to be well off the social radar of Megan, an overachieving rich girl whom Hannah (not alone) considers "the biggest bitch" in school. On the other hand, Colin manages to be a nice guy despite his star status on Warsaw High's highly rated basketball team.
Falling outside all social orbits is temporarily acne-plagued Jake, a self-described "marching band supergeek" who's got no friends, no girlfriend and subzero self-confidence.
While anxiously considering their post-high school options, subjects each undergo crises. Most dramatic is Megan's complete meltdown after a boyfriend of two years dumps her. Fearful of having inherited her mother's manic depression, she sinks into such a funk that she risks flunking out
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