Friday, July 28, 2023

The Slumber Party: Movie Review

Disney’s The Slumber Party is The Hangover except change to teen girls, minus the drugs, and swap out the general R-rated raunchiness for PG misadventures. It manages to still be fun and perfectly tailored to its audience. This is a wholesome, progressive teen girl adventure comedy that focuses on fun. The overall themes about friendship and family are kept to a minimum. The girls just get to have fun instead of delivering virtuous messages.   2023

Directed by: Veronica Rodriguez

Screenplay by: Eydie Faye, Jen Malone

Starring: Darby Camp, Emmy Liu-Wang and Alex Coopher Cohen

It's the night before Anna Maria (Valentina Herrera)’s father’s wedding and she has invited best friends Paige (Emmy Liu-Wang) and Megan (Darby Camp) for a sleepover but her mother has forced her to include her soon-to-be-stepsister Veronica (Alex Cooper Cohen). Anna Maria is not happy. She doesn’t like Veronica and she hates that her family is changing and never going back to how it was. She just wants a normal family. Paige and Megan take offense to her “normal” comment since Paige is from a blended family and Veronica has two gay dads.

Early on it feels like the film is just trying to be progressive for the sake of being progressive – Megan’s dads only have two lines and they’re ridiculously over-the-top, but as it settles into a more natural state of re-defining “normal”, it feels a lot more appropriate.

But back to the slumber party. Veronica has hired a hypnotist – Tituss Burgess decked out in a cape and dress boots with an entrance that speaks to the fun vibe the film is going for. Then the next thing they know is that it’s morning, the basement is very messy, Megan is missing an eyebrow and there are ducks in the bathtub. Oh, and Anna Maria is missing. The Hangover references are clearly on purpose, but they’ve found a way to make it fun the teen and pre-teen audience as well as any adults.

As the girls use the few clues to re-trace their steps to find their friend, the film keeps up the level of fun, especially at the beginning. The ducks come from the local high school, so they have to break-in, Veronica is not allowed to use parkour to do it, Paige calls her older brother Mikey for help, and in the middle of dodging the principal, Veronica and Mikey breakout into a really horrible rendition of "Start of Something New" from High School Musical. And later at an onion eating contest, Veronica finally gets to use her parkour moves – her non-existent parkour moves. The laughs are a little inconsistent, but there are some really enjoyable moments.

Amongst the teen girl cast, Emmy Liu-Wang comes across as the most natural actor of the bunch. She handles the Disney dialogue with ease and hopefully this leads to bigger and better things for her. The film however gives most of the big moments to Darby Camp’s Megan who is a little uneven when she has to switch from the rom-com storyline to the big physical comedy. Considering none of the girls are stars yet, it would have made more sense to even-out the comedic moments.

The Slumber Party is an overall fun adventure for teen girls; it’s short, fast and funny.