Directed by: #Trish Sie
Written by: #Sarah Rothschild
Film Review by: #Andrew Stooke
The Sleepover is like the quick cycle on a washing machine. The movie skips through a programme of many genre elements; the last big heist, a secret past life, and a grade-school bildungsroman washed in Jumanji, with Spy Kids as the fabric softener.
Impetuous, the action launches before the titles tumbling with mischievous energy. We meet Maxwell Simkins as confident and theatrical Kevin spinning a yarn to his class about his family's life on Mars. He can’t imagine the half of it! Down the hall, his sister Clancy, Sadie Stanley, flirts gawkishly with a school senior who invites her to his party that evening, initiating a chain of events where their parents are in big trouble, and kids must puzzle things out for themselves.
The family is quirky and affable joined by two of the children's friends. One is sleeping-over—but there is no time for sleep. Before normality even settles, they are shaken up by crazy circumstances. Multiple stories intertwine. They are balletically edited together with a time-bomb dynamic, cutting between moments of tension and gentle humour, slapstick and despair.
The drama, of secret weapon stores, crown jewels, flash cars, poisoning, life-jackets, and several people tied to chairs, is compressed between school pick-up and breakfast the following morning. Amid the tumult, Kevin asks, 'This is what mom does when we're asleep?'
Malin Åkerman is affectingly convincing in her transformation, from a mumsy no-nonsense teaching assistant, who will not even let her daughter have a smartphone, to a reborn international super-criminal. Despite kick-ass moves and a bad-ass attitude, she doesn't entirely present the contemporary female assassin's habitual body type. She maintains the doughy empathy of someone led astray. Husband Ron hasn't a clue what is going on. He is overwhelmed by a flood of changes that he needs to assimilate. He plays his part like a child, seeking attention and showing off. The device is a masterly complement to young characters, who are, on the whole, composed and fearless—with the exception of Kevin's sleepover buddy Lewis. Lucas Jaye provides an impressively restrained performance. He is kind-hearted and ultra-cautious, a foil to Clancy and Kevin's gung-ho bravura. Lewis comes complete with a laminated lanyard detailing food allergies and anti-bed-wetting underwear with an electronic sensor. The lead family are never entirely straight, therefore, it is Lewis, the titular Sleepover, who is most profoundly changed by the night's events.
From beginning to end, the pandemonium is modulated through a sequence of doorways, portals leading to new discoveries. At the start of the movie, Clancy's initiation to dating occurs with her head bashing on her locker door. Other doors are various, of cars, locked, fortuitously left open, needing secret keys and combinations, and to be hidden behind. After the hectic night, the family are last glimpsed gently shutting their front door. The closure suggests that they can integrate the mayhem—with the grime of the past rinsed away, everyone can see each other and themselves in a new light.