The Sleepover review – put on your big boy pants nighty night

August 19, 2020
M.N. Miller 0
Film Reviews, Netflix
2

Summary

It will take a healthy amount of inner dexterity and strength not to utilize Netflix’s new fast-forwarding policy during The Sleepover.

2

Summary

It will take a healthy amount of inner dexterity and strength not to utilize Netflix’s new fast-forwarding policy during The Sleepover.

If you are a parent, you might want to consider dosing your kid’s food or drinks with some Benadryl about 15 minutes before you start to stream Netflix’s family adventure film, The Sleepover. If for some reason your kids have been blessed with the gene DEC2 to prevent drowsiness, then I suggest some type of sweet bourbon and call it Mom’s special sugar water and let the kids chug it down. When that fails, pray that either Joe Manganiello and Malin Akerman has been on your celebrity cheat sheet for the past decade and hope one gets randy enough after the kids are put to bed. At least, that was my plan, but my wife took the Benadryl and some Crown Royal to save herself and then told me she would see me the morning (Netflix has so much product placement I thought I would add my own in this review).

Akerman stars as Margot Finch, a housewife who is married to her husband, Glen (the invaluable Ken Marino), an amiable pastry chef with an unhealthy amount of dexterity in his digits. They have two kids, Clancy (Sadie Stanley) and Kevin (Maxwell Simkins), and are leading a quiet life. That’s until, at Kevin’s sleepover, a shady pizza delivery man confirms Margot is currently in the witness protection program and is recruited back to work with her old flame, Leo (played by the often sleeveless Manganiello).

Don’t get me wrong, there is really nothing offensive about The Sleepover. Like most family adventure movies, it is a formula picture, stealing from better ones (Spy Kids), and really has only 40 minutes of material. Director Trish Sie does what she can with that material, and it’s her best effort to date — considering her last effort was Pitch Perfect 3 (aca-awful) up was the only way to go.

There are some positive things you can take away from the movie. It does have strong themes of family values and working together as a team. You have to like the fact that Maxwell Simkin’s little brother role is as annoying and disgusting as little brothers can act toward their own sisters, so much so, I may call him the Joaquin Phoenix of child method actors. Stanly’s Clancy is refreshing as a smart kid with a good head on her shoulders but manages to still have a sweet crush on a boy she likes.

Even Ken Marino does well here and is consistently funny, even in a role that has him carrying around a healthy dose of vomit on his face for a good 20 minutes. He has always been such an underutilized comic actor (Burning Love, anyone?) and is capable of nuanced performances. In a film called Diggers, he played Lozo, a role that had reminded me so much of my late father that I thought maybe Marino was my father… and he even confirmed it (but I suspect he was joking).

Even though the film doesn’t pretend to be anything it’s not, The Sleepover‘s script just isn’t smart enough to win most audiences over and treats the viewer as a distracted bystander. While I admire the strategy of keeping parents interested enough in the attractive leads and the kids with Juvenile humor, the script needed a couple more passes to keep things interesting. Otherwise, it follows the same Hollywood formula step by step and when it does entertain, it blatantly steals from better projects or catches our attention with integrated, over-the-top product placement.


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