American Teen

Rated 2.0

Writer-director Nanette Burstein’s film claims to be a documentary of four high-school seniors (Hannah Bailey, Colin Clemens, Megan Krizmanich, Jake Tusing) in small-town Indiana. Well, maybe so, but things are fishy from the get-go. Some scenes are plainly staged (Burstein doesn’t even bother to hide the kids’ microphone battery packs), others ring false (Tusing downs his first shot of “tequila” without a cough, gag or grimace), still others don’t add up (home video dated 1988 shows Clemens 1 year old, yet he’s supposedly 17 in 2006). And why does a documentary without narration have a writer’s credit in the first place? The impression is of brazen falsehood—at best a put-up job, at worst a hoax. Still, it’s diverting if you don’t mind the pretense, or if you believe everything you see at the movies.