Kid’s movies, for me, are judged and critiqued on a pretty small spectrum. Only about three areas/categories to put them in, although that can be debated and changed in time. Your kid film can be in the middle of the spectrum and toe the line at having just the right amount of goofy fun without it being too over the top. In the end, it’s a good/decent (but not great) time to be had by all. This includes films such as: most of Dreamworks Animation, some live action ones from Disney like Blank Check or Magic Camp or some live action ones from different studios like Rookie of The Year or Spy Kids. You can be on the brightest side of the spectrum, and have masterpieces of utter brilliance such as: insert Pixar movie here, most of Disney other animated ones, some Disney live action ones like National Treasure and Heavyweights, and the occasional live action one from a different studio, such as The Sandlot. And then there’s the shit side of the spectrum, kids movies that treat every single member of its audience as if they were morons, it’s too over-the-top, poorly written, Razzie Award worthy, awful, awful, awful garbage. This includes most of Netflix’s kids live action offerings, such as The Main Event and now…THE SLEEPOVER. The Sleepover is awful. There are so many curse words I could yell at it, so many metaphors and analogies that I could bash over its tiny, tiny pea sized plot brain, but this time, I’m just going to simply say that it’s simply awful…wait, no…fuck that. This movie deserves to be torn a new one. Imagine Spy Kids stripped down to nothing. There are no gadgets, the acting is way over-the-top, annoying, and God awful, there are no likable characters, the plot is bare bones, uninteresting bullshit, and every single joke falls flat on its face. The Sleepover is one of the very few kids films I wish that were UNMADE.
I should have known, as IMDB’s log line summary is bland and basic: “When two siblings discover their seemingly normal mom is a former thief in witness protection who has been forced to pull one last job, they team up to rescue her over the course of an action-packed night.” What I correctly predicted and got out of that brief description of the film is that they paid as much as a small budget would allow for some recognizable names such as Malin Akerman, Karla Souza, Ken Marino and Joe Manganiello, but then cost effectively limited their screen time to a handful of cheap bland sets, including a very unexciting main stairway action set piece, the action so bad and so fake looking, you have to see it to believe. The majority of the screen time goes to 4 uninteresting kids that basically follow a map of really dumb and not very well hidden clues to find their parents, and then somehow, without much effort, stupidly save the day. Add that a stupid, stupid twist you can seem coming from half way around the world. The jokes are relegated to a grown man baby’s finger strength in order to knead dough for his bakery, old time-y costume changes, food poisoning barf and fart jokes, and Ken Marino desperately trying to improve an insane over-the-top amount just to get a cheap and unearned laugh out of you. Come Razzie nomination time, Ken Marino would be on the short list of receiving worst supporting actor of the year. He is so clueless and annoying in this movie, I had to plug my ears several times just to be able to get to the next scene he isn’t in. He plays the dumbass husband to Malin Akerman’s character, of which they have absolutely no chemistry with each other, and the uninspired screenplay doesn’t help matters one bit.
But I’ll give Ken Marino one little caveat of praise, just one: at least he tried even though he failed miserably. Mr. Maganiello’s performance screams paycheck and he only seems to perk up in a few dialogue exchanges with Ms. Akerman. The film’s only tiny spark are their small amount of ten second scenes of chemistry, but the bold-less screenplay forcefully gets in the way of the little that works to make sure that Ken Marino’s character comes out victorious. Speaking of Malin Akerman, she looks absolutely bored in this movie and her constant phoned in line delivery, terrible make up, and bed head makes me think she woke up quick, left her trailer in a hurry, did her scenes as fast as possible, then went back and fell asleep until they needed her again. Even the main kids in the movie knew what kind of crap fest they were hired for, as they look like they are desperate to quickly get through production, as their roles are all very plain and lifeless. This is a cheaply made film from some screenplay a Netflix exec probably found in the rejected pile, because the approved pile is probably lacking or nowhere to be found. The director, Trish Sie, directed the abysmal sequel Pitch Perfect 3, and that’s about it, so that’s all you need to know in terms of quality. The writer Sarah Rothschild is even more to blame here, as how did anybody green light someone’s very first screenplay that was probably written in Screenplay 101 class at a shitty college no one has ever heard of? Imagine the worst possible sleepover over you’ve ever been to, whether somebody peed or shit the bed overnight, and/or awkwardly saw or touched something that they were never meant to see or touch. Do I really need to end this review by saying how much worse than that this film is?