What You Need To Know:
AMERICAN TEEN is well crafted, but it is disturbing to see teenagers struggle with such hedonistic behavior. Though the town is called “Christian,” there is no direct reference to Christianity, nor depiction of a Christian lifestyle. By calling these individuals “Christian” puts Jesus in a very bad light. The movie has much foul language, brief nudity and implied sexual relations. At the end, however, it shows the consequences of some of the bad behavior. It also points out the need to make restitution and to face one’s first year of college with greater wisdom. There are very few parents, grandparents and youth leaders who would want to see this glimpse into the lives of American teenagers.
(HH, Ab, AP, C, HoHo, LL, V, S, NN, AA, DD, MM) Strong humanist worldview with subtle anti-Christian elements and a mixed image of America and American youths, but repentance is demonstrated over negative behavior, plus some depicted homosexual content; 21 obscenities and some bathroom humor; fantasy violence in computer game, unsettling horror-like animated dream sequence; teenage sex implied, vulgar animation depicting sexual arousal, spin-the-bottle kissing, girls kiss each other, references to oral sex, passionate kissing in pool, vulgar dancing; upper female nudity on photo and rear nudity; teenagers drink alcohol and excessive drunkenness; smoking and illegal drugs; and, lying, revenge, obscene vandalism, selfishness.
AMERICAN TEEN is a documentary set in Warsaw, Indiana, a midwestern town described as being “mostly white, mostly Christian, and red-state all the way.” The movie follows the senior year experiences of four very diverse students: Megan, the snooty cheerleader; Colin, the basketball star; Jake, the video game nerd with extremely low self-esteem; and Hannah, the rebellious, artsy, independent “free thinker.”
Each teen faces a different set of issues. Megan, the daughter of an established Notre Dame alumnus, battles her fears of being accepted at college, while coming to grips with the effect that her sister’s suicide has had on her life.
Collin, the basketball star, finds himself embarrassed by his father who is a one-time basketball star now turned Elvis impersonator. He faces the prospect of being drafted by a less desirable college due to his low grades. He also comes to realize that he has not been a team player.
Jake’s entire life outside of school is spent playing “The Legend of Zolga,” a dark fantasy game. When a new girl at school speaks to him, he develops a relationship which helps him to break away from his cyberspace world and pursue reality. Unfortunately for Jake, keeping the girl is not as easy as in his fantasies, and he loses his first love. Eventually, he begins to overcome his shyness and develop confidence in himself as a member of the “teenage” race.
Hannah dreams of making movies in Hollywood. She has the most troubled family life since her mother is in a mental hospital for bi-polar disorder. She is being raised by her great aunt and grandmother, who have no clue as to her real nature. Hannah endures the guilt and pain of sexual relations with her boyfriend, only to be dumped and discarded. A terrifying animated dream leaves her feeling worthless and afraid that she has inherited her mother’s manic depression.
Surviving numerous trials and tribulations, the four students make it through their senior year in high school and prepare to leave for college. All have made mistakes and all have learned some hard lessons.
This documentary is well crafted but emotionally disturbing to see teenagers struggle with such hedonistic behavior. Though the town is called a “Christian” town, there is no direct reference to Christianity, nor depiction of a Christian lifestyle. By calling these individuals “Christian” puts Jesus in a very bad light. Many viewers may be shocked to see such behavior among teenagers, especially in a small town.
AMERICAN TEEN also has much foul language, brief nudity, implied sexual relations and very troubling attitudes by all the documentary participants. At the end, however, the movie does show the consequences for some of the bad behavior, and points out the need to make restitution and to face one’s first year of college with greater wisdom. Very few parents, grandparents and youth leaders will want to see this glimpse into the lives of American teens.
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