Review: 'American Teen'

Documentary about four Indiana teens in their senior year of high school comes across like a reality TV show with equally limited insight.

The "American" in the title of the new Nanette Burstein documentary "American Teen" is a tip off that we are supposed to be watching something archetypal. The film follows four "typical" teenagers from small town Indiana through their senior year of high school, and Burstein does indeed capture some of the awkwardnesses that we can all relate to – the dating scene, the snubs, the cliques, the bad behavior. But the film, which unfortunately utilizes cutesy animation sequences, is structured like a reality TV show, and in the end doesn't offer up a great deal more human insight than those shows. And, like much reality TV, sections of "American Teen" seem patently staged, or coached, for the camera. Grade: B- (Rated PG-13 for some strong language, sexual material, some drinking and brief smoking – all involving teens.)

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