Spy Kids: The Next Generation?
The Sleepover is a very average and formulaic family flick. It utilizes all the tired gags and ideas seen in pictures released several decades ago, but tries to cover them up with a new lick of paint and a below-average screenplay.
Like many other Netflix Original movies, the result is something that has a few high moments but generally maintains an air of disposable mediocrity. The Sleepover sticks pretty closely to the tried and tested tropes seen in this genre. However, it does so without every expanding beyond this archetype to produce something original.
There’s elements of Spy Kids thrown in, along with plenty of slapstick silliness, but the constantly shifting perspective between the kids and the adults loses any built-up momentum. When the spotlight is squarely on the kids however, the movie is given a chance to shine.
At the centre of this story lies Kevin who plays out the archetypal nerd, complete with “cute jammies” and best friend Lewis who has some serious bathroom problems.
Balancing out the playing field is his sister Clancy, who finds herself entangled in an under-developed romance with a boy called Travis at school. However, this hits an immediate road-bump when her Mother refuses to let Clancy have a phone. Thankfully, she has best friend Mim by her side to help rebel against the family.
Only, that rebelling will have to wait as parents Ron and Margot host a sleepover for the kids. However, this takes a turn for the worst when Margot’s past catches up to her in the form of her old gang demanding she join them. With the kids blissfully unaware of what’s going on, Margot leaves a clue for the kids before being taken captive.
Eventually learning their Mother is living a double life, the kids team up and set out to save Margot before it’s too late.
Narratively, the story then shifts perspectives between the parents and the kids with an equal amount of emphasis on comedy and jokes between them. There’s a running joke surrounding Ron’s name and plenty of nauseating gags (quite literally) while the kids are given some of the better material in the movie to play with.
And that’s ultimately where The Sleepover comes undone. Kids and families are really the target demographic here and it’s a shame that the film takes the approach that it does with the parents. There’s potential for a decent little mystery to play out as the kids jump from set piece to set piece, uncovering more about their Mother as time goes by.
Seeing exposition slowly ooze out as the truth about their Mother is revealed could have allowed a much more engrossing plot to play out. Instead, there’s never any tension or ensuing drama given we see everything that happens to both sets of characters.
Stylistically, the movie doesn’t have an awful lot that stands out but there’s a few nice special effects for the different gadgets and action sequences. For the most part though, this is a relatively simple story that leans into the comedic element of the picture.
Thankfully the chemistry between the kids is what saves this one and makes it more of an enjoyable adventure than it otherwise would be.
The same cannot be said for the antagonists or supporting characters though who are all incredibly basic and don’t do enough to stand out and establish themselves.
The Sleepover is an enjoyable enough family flick but not one you’ll return to in a hurry. It’s a harmless, mediocre picture that’s enjoyable enough but fails to really establish itself as one of the better Netflix Original films.