Confessions Of An American Girl Review
By Christopher Null
When a movie opens on a teenager's repeated attempts to kill herself, well, you know we're in for some wild comedy!
A darkly black comedy of the trailer trash variety, Waking Up in Reno director Jordan Brady mostly misses with this study of working class malaise, the prison system, teen pregnancy, and closeted homosexuality. Well, Brady gets an A for effort in trying to get across such a broad collection of social messages, but his execution is merely a solid C.
Main problem? It's impossible to care about the plight of any of these characters. The cast comprises a family of five, the patriarch of which is now seven years into a prison sentence. Mom (Michelle Forbes) wants nothing to do with him, but at the urging of the youngest daughter Rena (Jena Malone) -- who is pregnant and suicidal -- she is convinced to take the clan to the annual prison picnic. Along for the ride are closeted Jay (Brad Renfro) and slutty Barbie (Alicia Witt).
Each family member encounters some crisis or another during the day, but it's arguable whether any of their characters is improved or enlightened in any way by it. Even innocent Rena comes off as bratty and deeply in need of being locked up in the nuthouse, while the issue of her pregnancy is tidily dealt with and dismissed. The film's best moment involves Witt, who is told to grunt and squeal like a pig, which she does.
Confessions of an American Girl is partially saved by virtue of having four solid and underrated actors in the lead roles, but the material is simplistic, undercooked, and beneath their talents. Fans of these players will probably find something worthwhile in the production, but insights into any of the topics Brady wants to explore are decidedly absent.
Aka American Girl.
Facts and Figures
Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5
Cast & Crew
Starring: Jena Malone as Rena Grubb, Michelle Forbes as Madge Grubb, Brad Renfro as Jay Grubb, Chris Mulkey as John Grubb, Alicia Witt as Barbie, Clifton Collins, Jr. as Buddy, Kevin Gage as Deputy Richard, O-Lan Jones as Hildegarde, Micole Mercurio as Faye, Erik von Detten as Kenton, Harmony Blossom as Bikini Teen, Damon Standifer as Guard Damon, Andrew Bowen as Short Guard, Wayne Federman as Paramedic