The Beach House (2020) | SHUDDER
If I have a serious recommendation to start this review out with, it’s to not watch the trailer – it’s really doing nothing good for this film. With the trailer out of mind, the film is a kid’s film at heart, similar to the likes of Spy Kids (with less style) that has a few drops of humor that fall on the edge of adult content. From start to finish, you could describe how this film is going to play out, but it’s the unexpected comedy that hits. While the trailer ruins these moments, without it the comedy surprisingly lands much more often than not.
Director Trish Sie (Pitch Perfect 3, Step Up All In) delivers an adequate performance behind the camera, lacking the finesse of other spy / thief centric films such as Rodriquez’s Spy Kids or even Freundlich’s Catch That Kid. Sie delivers a fun adventure film, albeit one that could have easily been filmed to appear on the Disney Channel with very little flair signaling it to be of theatrical quality. While The Sleepover isn’t the greatest showcase of her talents as a filmmaker, at least it’s not a careless follow up to a highly successful franchise.
Following a group of young teens who happen to be having a sleepover (sort of) as they attempt to track down their parents after witnessing them being kidnapped by “ninjas.” As their search begins, they quickly discover the mystery behind the reason for their capture and get more than they bargained for in the process. Scribe Sarah Rothschild makes her screenwriting debut with The Sleepover and provides an entertaining watch, making her main characters easy to follow and her plot incredibly straight forward. There are no twists and turns you are not expecting, but The Sleepover manages to make it a wholesome experience.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
It’s difficult to make a film with younger actors, whether pre-teens or young teenagers, be relatable or even entertaining for an older audience; just look at modern day Disney channel films, they’re almost unwatchable as an adult. Somehow these characters work in The Sleepover, and that might be because of how evenly sliced they are with the adults storyline. The film is split (for the most part) between two groups, the teenagers and the adults, which consists of actors: Sadie Stanley, Lucas Jaye, Cree Cicchino, Malin Akerman, Joe Manganiello, Ken Marino, and the breakout of the film - Maxwell Simkins as Kevin. The comedy is within these characters doing anything outside of their bubbles. Whether it be plot or side characters, they are easily dismissible as usual straight to dvd affair, but what makes the film so decent is the main cast. Sure, the cast should have been better expanded upon with seven leads, as it can be difficult to properly explore everyone’s backstory, but somehow the ones we learn the most about are the adults. Akerman’s an ex-thief in witness protection, Marino’s a baker with pride, and Manganiello is a wild card that used to be engaged to Akerman. The teens…one is interested in the other, one has an overprotective parent, and a love interest is thrown in for another without any care…that’s seriously all I got from these characters – if it wasn’t for the energy conveyed by the actors themselves, these character traits would certainly not be enough to drive the film.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
Netflix’s 'The Sleepover' is harmless, hoping to be the next 'Spy Kids'
The spy genre used to be an over saturated genre of film, but coming into the 2010s and now the 2020s, beyond Kingsman and Bond, the genre has had a considerable downfall. Unlike a film aimed at a younger audience like Agent Cody Banks which explored countless gadgets, The Sleepover really only displays one, and that’s a laser pen, something that doesn’t require the most extensive CGI work. Now to completely contradict everything I just said, they’re technically not spies, but trained thieves, yet they still have a secret gadget bunker so…? Visually though, the film keeps it simple, with minimal explosions and choreographed fight scenes making the film rely far less on special effects and more on the practical, apart from a hilariously bad spider that comes into play later in the film.
The Sleepover (2020) | NETFLIX
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
The score is serviceable. It’s high energy and high cued to match the action taking place, but it’s certainly nothing we haven’t seen time and time again in teenage aimed features. If you were to watch Agent Cody Banks, then Spy Kids, Catch That Kid, and finally The Sleepover, you’d have nothing original left. Films like this don’t necessarily need the most impressive of scores, but just one to keep the film from being too dry, and the score does this well.
Netflix’s The Sleepover is harmless. Although hoping to be the next Spy Kids, a film that resonated with a generation, it’ll likely be swept under the rug soon after release. Kids will enjoy it for a short while, and adults will have a chuckle throughout, but it’s certainly not one you need to sleep on; it’s a one and done but nothing you’ll regret seeing.