Oh Alexa, what the heck is going on? Alexa Vega (Spy Kids 3-D, Spy Kids 2) made a nice splash with the Spy Kids franchise. Sleepover is the first work of hers after mini-stardom away from it, and man, this is a horrible movie. It is thoroughly boring for anybody out of junior high, and tries so hard to be 'cool' that anybody in junior high will think it's lame. This is just another in a long string of 'tweener films that appears and burns out at the box office. It's worse than most of the others, but unfortunately will not be the last of them. Sleepover wants to capture that moment between junior high and high school, when kids go from being are thrown from the top of the pecking order all the way down as lowly freshmen. The good news is that they can redeem themselves, and sometime start over.

Julie (Vega) wants to do so. Her ex-best friend Stacie (Sara Paxton, Haunted Lighthouse, Soldier) ascended to the upper echelons of junior high popularity, leaving Julie in the dust. Stacie has a new set of cool friends, leaving Julie baffled at the dissolution of their friendship. Oh well. Julie and her friend Hannah (Mika Boorem, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, Blue Crush) want to celebrate summer by having a sleepover. There are two other friends, but they barely register on the script. One is brunette, and one is kind of chunky (this plays in later). Oddly enough, Stacie and her crew challenge Julie and friends to a scavenger hunt, with the winner getting a prime lunch spot in high school. The loser gets to sit by the trashcans.

Too many things do not add up in Elisa Bell's (Little Black Book, National Lampoon's Vegas Vacation) screenplay. How can people not in high school wager over high school territory? Given her character, would Julie really care where she sits? It's incumbent upon Bell and director Joe Nussbaum (George Lucas in Love) to create a story people can believe; instead they come up with this dorky concept. Julie and friends need to sneak out of her house, and enlist her dimwitted brother Ren (Sam Huntingdon, Not Another Teen Movie, Detroit Rock City) in fooling her dad (Jeff Garlin, Daddy Day Care, Full Frontal). Julie's mom (Jane Lynch, Little Black Book, A Mighty Wind) is out for a nice night on the town. Julie is also hot for Steve (Sean Faris, Pearl Harbor), who has no idea who she is.

Maybe this movie was about independence. Julie and her friends are asserting themselves, having fun, and learning about life through this scavenger hunt. Sadly, there is too much giggling, a scene where they're dancing to the Spice Girls (at least seven years too late), and a truly creepy scene in a club with their teacher. The characters also constantly lie to their parents, all to try to gain more popularity. Gee, that's a wonderful moral to tell our children. Bad morals are not necessarily a bad thing in movies, but when a film is completely devoid of anything else, like Sleepover is, one cannot help but notice this. Throw in some more random annoying characters and Sleepover just goes to heck.

Haro Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 30 minutes, Rated PG for thematic elements involving teen dating, some sensuality, and language.

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