Client: Eydie Faye – Writer, Producer
Oh to be a tweenage girl with access to Disney+ this weekend.
“The Slumber Party” is a brisk, breezy and often-amusing riff on that old fashioned teen and pre-teen ritual, the last sleepover of summer. Well-cast, with some properly snarky one-liners and a lot of creativity shown in making this young-kid-appropriate, it’s a cute variation of an “I don’t remember last night” comedy built for kids too young to drink.
I mean, you’ve got to make our narrator, Megan (Darby Camp), her besties Paige (Emmy Liu-Wang) and Anna Maria (Valentina Herrera) and Valentina’s dorky soon-to-be-stepsister Veronica (Alex Cooper Cohen) “forget” everything that happened the night of Anna Maria’s birthday sleepover.
Screwy Veronica’s way of ingratiating herself with the daughter of the man her mom is about to marry? Hire a hypnotist for Anna Maria’s birthday. He puts them under and waking up with a bloody nose, wearing the hoodie of a guy one girl crushes on, hearing a tub full of baby ducklings, seeing a “pooh painting” on the wall (“It’s Ok. It’s NUTELLA!”), one missing an eyebrow and one 14 year-old MIA, these ladies have questions — lots of them.
If only they can track down the missing Anna Maria, who is very upset at her father remarrying. If only they can get that pooh– Ok, “NUTELLA” — off the walls. If only they can track that danged Magnificent Mesmer down so that he’ll give them the “trigger word” that lets them remember their night of being “your most authentic selves.”
Did I mention that the flamboyantly funny Tituss Burgess of “The Unsinkable Kimmy Schmidt” is “Mesmer,” if not exactly “Magnificent?”
“Look kid, let me in or I’ll use my magic to make you grow a mustache that your Mom won’t let you bleach!”
Yeah, THAT Tituss Burgess.
The three girls hunt for their missing fourth for a hectic day of breaking into school, Veronica falling hopelessly in love with Paige’s prankster/hustler older brother (Dallas Liu) because it turns out both of them are nuts about “High School Musical,” getting trapped in the “Onion Munch” onion-eating contest at the Chattahoochee Onion Festival and remembering stealing a rival high school’s hedgehog parade float.
The one-liners come pretty fast in this Eydie Faye script. Megan swoons over dreamboat Jake (Ramon Jose Rodriguez) and his “toothpaste commercial teeth,” and laments how she may never like to “try new things” with good reason, taking a shot at a (non-Disney) local theme park.
“Does ANYbody truly ENJOY being at Six Flags?”
Megan tried lots of new things, as did everybody else. Otherwise, why are there ducklings from the school science lab filling Anna Maria’s basement tub?
“What the DUCK?”
Smart-mouthed Paige has put-downs handy for every occasion. That trash-talking good’ol boy at the “Onion Munch?”
“I’m sorry, did somebody say ‘BEETLEJUICE’ three times?”
If there are film execs in Burbank with senses of humor, there’s probably some grumbling about how this Atlanta-set low-budget made-for-streaming comedy could be funnier and more of a romp than the big budget/name cast “Haunted Mansion” opening in theaters this weekend.
It’s 40 minutes shorter, for starters. It just flies by. And Tituss Burgess makes EVERYthing funnier.
I won’t oversell this, but a climactic chase in an out-of-control hedgehog float pretty much pegs the middle-school mirth meter, and that’s the target audience here. “Slumber Party” is for kids wanting to see a girl-bonding movie about slightly older kids learning to handle a scary new and bigger school “like Taylor Swift.”
‘Shake if Off.”
Cast: Darby Camp, Emmy Liu-Wang, Valentina Herrera, Alex Cooper Cohen, Dallas Liu, Ramon Jose Rodriguez and Tituss Burgess
Credits: Directed by Veronica Rodriguez, scripted by Eydie Faye. A Disney+ release.
Running time: 1:22