Nanette Burstein follows a bunch of high school kids in the small town of Warsaw, Indiana. in "American Teen", these kids represent a certain clique that each one of us belongs to when we were in high school. There's popular girl Megan whose pressured by her dad to attend Notre Dame in college; basketball jock Colin who desperately needs to up his game to attract the attention of recruiters so he can go to college through a basketball scholarship (his dad is an Elvis impersonator who can't afford his college studies); the pimply nerd Jake who's too aware of how invisible he is in school; the artistic Hannah, et. al.
Though the narrative occasionally appears scripted and moderated, the initially non-appealing line-up soon turns interesting as we selectively follow their lives. The film made me look back to my own high school which wasn't so long ago and feel how "shallow" some of their concerns were. Were we this shallow before? There were stories that didn't need telling because they're plain uninteresting. Even the epilogue that updates us of these characters more than a year after these kids have graduated from high school (and have moved on to college) - just seemed superficial. But yeah, superficial I can watch as long as there's a delectably cute guy like Mitch Reinholt! You can text me anytime, Mitch! Make me blush!
Megan Krizmanich is the queen bee, the popular girl.
"American Teen" won at the 2008 Sundance for Best Documentary Film Director and was nominated for Best Documentary at the Chicago Film Critics Association (losing to James Marsh's "Man on Wire" which eventually won the Oscar).