Tim Grierson on the Teen Movie You Really Need to See (that isn’t “Project X”)


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Whether you loved or hated “Project X,” the one thing everyone can agree on is that it’s not like anybody’s actual high school experience. That’s sorta the point, of course: The movie’s party-to-end-all-parties storyline is meant to be a giddy, unhinged exaggeration of every young man’s fantasy of what it would be like to have the hottest girls at his place while his parents are out of town. But the film’s wish-fulfillment plot eventually gets old when you realize there’s not a soul in the movie who’s remotely relatable. Nobody in real life is that cool or that nerdy as is depicted in “Project X,” so while watching the movie I was trying to think of recent films in which teen life are portrayed realistically — or at least realistic to my own experience. As luck would have it, one just came out on DVD and is definitely worth a look.

It’s called “The Myth of the American Sleepover,” and if you haven’t heard of it, fear not: It only made a whopping $41,000 in the theater. (“Project X” probably made more than that on midnight screenings alone.) “Myth” is a small indie that, like “Project X,” doesn’t star anyone you’d recognize and looks at a group of young people dealing with peer pressure and love over a short span of time. But unlike “Project X,” the film gets so much of teen life right that, no matter how old you are, you may recognize yourself in one of its characters. That realization can be a little scary — like looking at awkward childhood pictures — but, hey, we’ve all gone through those growing pains.

“Myth,” which was written and directed by first-timer David Robert Mitchell, came out in July, about a month after another teen period film, “Super 8” opened. What’s interesting about “Myth,” though, is that the time period is never nailed down. In the film, there are no cellphones, and characters use VCRs, but Mitchell said he wanted to keep specifics out of it. “By hinting at different time periods, or blending them, we can get at a different kind of truth,” he explained last year. “I see the film as sort of its own myth. It’s like an impression or a memory that we remember and maybe not even that accurately.”

“Myth” feels like a memory, but one any of us can share in. Set in and around Detroit, the drama follows a group of teens as they enjoy their final weekend of summer freedom before having to go back to school. As with all teen movies, “Myth” has its character types, but they tend to be much more subtly drawn in this film than you normally see. There’s the tough girl with the nose ring (Claire Sloma), and the shy virgin (Marlon Morton), and the college senior (Brett Jacobsen) going through a bad breakup. But having established these characters, Mitchell sends them on unexpected paths, often subverting our expectations of what we’d assume these types of characters would be like. Whereas the dudes in “Project X” don’t really change from the first scene to the last, the young people in “Myth” act like the young people we remember from our own lives, still morphing and trying to figure out who they are and where they’re going.

I don’t want to set up “The Myth of the American Sleepover” as some sort of “antidote” to “Project X,” but as raucous and edgy as “Project X” wants to be, it’s not a movie that seems to understand a thing about how teenagers actually are. Sure, young guys really want to get laid — that was true in “Porky’s” and “American Pie” and dozens of other teen comedies — but it’s not the only thing they want, and it tends not to work out as easily as it seems to in “Project X.” (Also, unlike “Project X,” “Myth” actually seems interested in women beyond their physical features.) By following his characters as they gather for one-last-hurrah parties, Mitchell deemphasizes the titillating for a pretty honest examination of how uncomfortable hormones can be. Working with a largely inexperienced cast, the writer-director lets his characters’ insecurities and naivety rule the day, although you wouldn’t confuse “Myth” with one of those cringe-comedies where you wince more than laugh at the awkwardness on display. If “Project X” sells a fantasy of teen life, “The Myth of the American Sleepover” shows us who we were with an alarming, inspiring clarity. Put it this way: The film’s most potentially salacious scenario — involving a guy and two gorgeous college twins — leads to the story’s most poignant moment. The bros in “Project X” would not approve — but you might.

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Bro and Tell

BFFs And Night Court For Sports

Bromance and Comeuppance On Two New Comedy Crib Series

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“Silicon Valley meets Girls meets black male educators with lots of unrealized potential.”

That’s how Carl Foreman Jr. and Anthony Gaskins categorize their new series Frank and Lamar which joins Joe Schiappa’s Sport Court in the latest wave of new series available now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. To better acquaint you with the newbies, we went right to the creators for their candid POVs. And they did not disappoint. Here are snippets of their interviews:

Frank and Lamar


IFC: How would you describe Frank and Lamar to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Carl: Best bros from college live and work together teaching at a fancy Manhattan private school, valiantly trying to transition into a more mature phase of personal and professional life while clinging to their boyish ways.

IFC: And to a friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Carl: The same way, slightly less coherent.

Anthony: I’d probably speak about it with much louder volume, due to the bar which would probably be playing the new Kendrick Lamar album. I might also include additional jokes about Carl, or unrelated political tangents.

Carl: He really delights in randomly slandering me for no reason. I get him back though. Our rapport on the page, screen, and in real life, comes out of a lot of that back and forth.

IFC: In what way is Frank and Lamar a poignant series for this moment in time?
Carl: It tells a story I feel most people aren’t familiar with, having young black males teach in a very affluent white world, while never making it expressly about that either. Then in tackling their personal lives, we see these three-dimensional guys navigate a pivotal moment in time from a perspective I feel mainstream audiences tend not to see portrayed.

Anthony: I feel like Frank and Lamar continues to push the envelope within the genre by presenting interesting and non stereotypical content about people of color. The fact that this show brought together so many talented creative people, from the cast and crew to the producers, who believe in the project, makes the work that much more intentional and truthful. I also think it’s pretty incredible that we got to employ many of our friends!

Sport Court

Sport Court gavel

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Joe: SPORT COURT follows Judge David Linda, a circuit court judge assigned to handle an ad hoc courtroom put together to prosecute rowdy fan behavior in the basement of the Hartford Ultradome. Think an updated Night Court.

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Joe: Remember when you put those firecrackers down that guy’s pants at the baseball game? It’s about a judge who works in a court in the stadium that puts you in jail right then and there. I know, you actually did spend the night in jail, but imagine you went to court right that second and didn’t have to get your brother to take off work from GameStop to take you to your hearing.

IFC: Is there a method to your madness when coming up with sports fan faux pas?
Joe: I just think of the worst things that would ruin a sporting event for everyone. Peeing in the slushy machine in open view of a crowd seemed like a good one.

IFC: Honestly now, how many of the fan transgressions are things you’ve done or thought about doing?
Joe: I’ve thought about ripping out a whole row of chairs at a theater or stadium, so I would have my own private space. I like to think of that really whenever I have to sit crammed next to lots of people. Imagine the leg room!

Check out the full seasons of Frank and Lamar and Sport Court now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”

Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”

But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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