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Fourteen-year-old Julie's best friend, Hannah, is about to move to Vancouver leaving Julie to face her first year of high school alone. But before that happens, the girls decide to kick off summer vacation with a sleepover. They invite popular girl Stacie, but Stacie—predictably—turns them down. Then she challenges them to a popularity duel of sorts: a daredevil scavenger hunt, the winner of which claims unrestricted rights to the cool high school lunch table.
With Julie's mom away for the evening on her own adventure, Dad preoccupied with a challenging water-filter installation, and an older brother willing to cover for them for $50, the girls set off on their wild quest. But scavenging isn't the only thing that holds their attention. Stacie's distracted by the overly amorous advances of her high school hunk of a boyfriend; Julie by her unrequited crush on heartthrob Steve.
Julie and friends reach out to a girl named Yancy who's shunned by the popular girls for being "fat," and invite her to the sleepover. When Yancy's down about her lagging love life, the girls encourage her to look for a "brownie" kind of guy as opposed to the "celery" type. Lo and behold, before the night's over, she attracts a generous-spirited guy who shares her love for gooey chocolate confections.
After Julie tells her friends, "My mom doesn't do fun," she's stunned to discover her whoopin' it up on the dance floor of a local nightclub. (Mom's activities are not sexualized, nor are they besotted with booze.) Julie suspects her mom is sneaking around behind her dad's back, but is later mollified when she overhears her mom telling her dad that she had fun, but missed him. "Everyone needs a night out now and then," he replies.
When Julie's mom realizes her little girl is growing up, a sweet discussion ensues about the "bridge between ladybugs and boys." When Julie acknowledges she's still standing on that bridge, Mom advises her to take her time crossing it.
Despite being infatuated with such sexual accessories as thong panties, Stacie forcibly rebuffs her boyfriend's advances. Of course she tells the other girls that she has already "hooked up" with him, but later he foils her deception, telling everyone within earshot that "the princess doesn't hook up." In a subtle, circuitous kind of way, purity is upheld when Julie and friends acknowledge that Stacie is not so different from them after all.
In pursuit of Steve's boxers to fulfill a scavenger hunt requirement, Julie finds herself hiding in his shower while he's getting undressed. Moviegoers don't see any private body parts, but it's obvious that Julie gets an eyeful.
Another scavenger task has the girls undressing and dressing mannequins at an Old Navy store. (Forced to freeze each time the mall's security guard looks their way, the girls end up with their hands in some provocative places.) The girls also paste the heads of classmates onto the shirtless bodies of male models they find on the Internet.
In Sleepover world cool girls wear sexy underwear (no one models them), while losers and nerds are doomed to wear granny panties that mom picks out. Bras end up in the hands of a trio of goofy skateboard dudes when they raid Julie's dresser drawers. Julie wears one of her mom's dresses, cut low in the front.
Almost all of it is of the slapstick variety (skateboarders and bicyclists wiping out, cars bumping into trash cans, etc.), except for a brief catfight between Stacie and a female rival that earns the wholehearted support of the surrounding dance crowd. (No one's injured; no clothes are torn.) A guy gets slapped in the face by two insulted girlfriends.
Crude or Profane Language
No more than two exclamations of "h---." God's name is also used as an interjection a couple of times. Passing by her dad as he's bent over a plumbing job, Julie quips, "Butt-crack alert!"
Drug and Alcohol Content
Julie sneaks into a nightclub and orders a drink, but is carded by the bartender and settles for a ginger ale.
Other Negative Elements
Before the night's over, the girls break all three of Julie's mom's Slumberland Rules: No leaving the house, no damaging the house, no boys. Despite several interventions from a bumbling security officer (sometimes because of him), they also get involved in a hit-and-run accident, they break into a house and sneak into a bar. But in true teen fantasyland style, they get off scot-free.Stereotypical treatment of parents has Dad playing the role of bumbling idiot, unable to install a simple water filter and totally unaware of the girls' hijinks. For that he earns his daughter's total disrespect. Shaking her head, Julie moans, "Look at Dad—he is so oblivious." Despite the fact that Mom's clearly in charge, she doesn't get any respect when she gets home, either. Julie talks to her with barely-veiled disdain, eager to break out of the shackles of her little-girl image. (In Julie's defense, Mom does suggest a ladybug theme for the sleepover.) She lashes out at her "so blindfolded" mom, "I know your rules: No moving, no smiling, no breathing," then asks sarcastically, "Why don't you just freeze me in a time capsule? That way you can keep me little forever."
The neighborhood security guard is another authority figure targeted for disrespect, and the way he's presented, moving clumsily and making moronic speeches, makes audiences believe he deserves it. At one point he has a bicycle accident and calls his mom to pick him up.
Despite what she calls her “Cinderella night,” Julie still considers herself a failure for not nabbing a kiss from her Prince Charming.
Compared to others in this genre (Mean Girls comes to mind), Sleepover keeps it pretty clean. None of the major characters drink, do drugs, have sex or spew vulgarities. Still, messages are mixed on what's truly important in life. Quasi-nerdy kids find value and acceptance. Popular princesses tumble from their thrones. But coolness is still the ultimate goal, and everything else is just, well, oblivion, even though Julie and Hannah agree it's a regrettable state of affairs. "We live in a sucky universe," Hannah says, "where wearing the wrong sneakers can get you thrown out."
One of the movie's defining scenes happens when Julie and Co. descend upon the high school dance ticket taker, who denies them entrance without the magic pieces of paper. Julie tells her, "I know who you are. You're out here collecting tickets instead of inside at the dance. You've never eaten anywhere near the fountain [where the cool kids' lunch table is]. In four years, I'll be you if I don't get into that dance." Instantly understanding the momentousness of the occasion, the girl relents, cheering her on with, "You go! Do it for all who never could!"
Thus, the four friends enter the dance and life is forever changed for the better.
Elsewhere, Sleepover rewards bad behavior and fanatically avoids meting out real-world consequences. Instead of being taken home to their parents by the security guard when their electric car collides with his car, the girls run off into the night to continue their mischief making. And in the morning when Julie buckles under her mother's questioning and admits to sneaking out, she excuses herself by saying, "I assure you it was for a very important adolescent cause." Her mom buys it, and rewards her by replying, "Adolescent, as in adult?" Then she presents her daughter with a much-coveted lock for her bedroom.
Just fun would deserve the understanding nod-and-wink Julie's parents bestow on her. Delinquency can rack up consequences as serious as a stint in juvie hall or financial restitution. Families who invite themselves to this Sleepover will have to sort that out when the night's over.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Alexa Vega as Julie; Mika Boorem as Hannah; Sara Paxton as Stacie; Brie Larson as Liz; Sam Huntington as Ren; Thad Luckinbill as Todd, Sean Faris as Steve; Kallie Flynn Childress as Yancy; Jeff Garlin as Julie’s Dad; Jane Lynch as Julie’s Mom; Steve Carell as Sherman
Joe Nussbaum ( )