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.


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.


Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.



Stan Diego Comic-Con

Stan Against Evil returns November 1st.

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Photo Credit: Erin Resnick, GIFs via Giphy

Another Comic-Con International is in the can, and multiple nerdgasms were had by all – not least of which were about the Stan Against Evil roundtable discussion. Dana, Janet and John dropped a whole lotta information on what’s to come in Season 2 and what it’s like to get covered in buckets of demon goo. Here are the highlights.

Premiere Date!

Season 2 hits the air November 1 and picks up right where things left off. Consider this your chance to seamlessly continue your Halloween binge.

Character Deets!

Most people know that Evie was written especially for Janet, but did you know that Stan is based on Dana Gould’s dad? It’s true. But that’s where the homage ends, because McGinley was taken off the leash to really build a unique character.

Happy Accidents!

Improv is apparently everything, because according to Gould the funniest material happens on the fly. We bet the writers are totally cool with it.

Exposed Roots!

If Stan fans are also into Twin Peaks and Doctor Who, that’s no accident. Both of those cult classic genre benders were front of mind when Stan was being developed.

Trailer Treasure!

Yep. A new trailer dropped. Feast your eyes.

Catch up on Stan Against Evil’s first season on the IFC app before it returns November 1st on IFC.