I’m a sucker for hilarious documentaries of crappy middle America. Spellbound, a film that follows the lives of six young competitors as they prepare for the 1999 Scripps National Spelling Bee, comes to mind as one of my favorites. It was excellently done, showcasing humor in the inane (a misspelled “CONGRADULATIONS” sign honoring one contestant at the local Hooters, another contestant’s mother knowledgeably confiding, “I think Ted’s got the advantage of parents who think he’s great irregardless.”)
American Teen, a documentary film by Nanette Burstein set in Warsaw, Indiana, promises to combine the tongue-in-cheek humor of Spellbound with the high school angst of The Breakfast Club. It’s been lauded by critics so far, winning the Directing Award for documentaries at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. The film’s tagline is, “The Jock. The Geek. The Rebel. The Princess. The Heartthrob. Who Were You?”
I’m especially intrigued by the romance between Hannah (the rebel) and Mitch (the heartthrob) that is hinted at in the trailer. Definitely an audible “awww”.
I just wish the film’s design team had had a high enough budget to come up with their own signature title look, rather than ripping off that of American Girl, purveyor of dolls and clothing for preteen girls: