The coming of age story is all about innocence. And the loss of innocence. Expectations. Fears. Hopes. Change.
The Myth of the American Sleepover (2010) does a great job capturing the uncertainty of adolescence. It charms, and amuses without without overplaying its hand.
The over-nighter scenario (American Graffiti (1973), Dazed and Confused (1993), Superbad (2007), Booksmart (2019)) is a common one in coming of age stories. It captures the sense that everything is to play for during the course of a single night. What they do, or don’t do will impact the rest of their lives. They can’t afford to mess it up. Time is running out for them to learn the rules of adulthood, to begin living their own lives, to make sense of their reality, to take their own choices, to think for themselves. If they don’t get it right on this night they will somehow be forever catching up, or doomed to forever miss the point. Failing. Lonely. Unsuccessful. Watching their friends be happy and succeed. It’s a c classic case of FOMO (fear of missing out).
The Myth of the American Sleepover, like all coming of age stories, with its nostalgic music, first loves, and encroaching sense of newly forming individual identities, captures a lost moment in time. A single night marks the end of childhood. Something new is about to happen. And nobody knows what it will be. It might be something you least expect — or something you subconsciously half-realised all along.