American Teen

2008 PG-13 1h 38m DVD

American Teen

2008 PG-13 1h 38m DVD
  • Overview
  • Details
In this slice-of-life documentary, filmmaker Nanette Burstein follows five high school seniors in Warsaw, Ind., and captures their struggles in and out of the classrooms, including their friendships and romantic relationships. Chock full of the drama and emotion that accompany the adolescent experience, the film offers a compelling glimpse into the problems and issues that teenagers confront on a daily basis.
Hannah Bailey, Colin Clemens, Geoff Haase, Megan Krizmanich, Mitch Reinholt, Jake Tusing, Ali Wikalinska
Nanette Burstein
Widescreen 1.78:1
English, French, Spanish (Neutral)
English: Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish (Neutral): Dolby Digital 5.1
PG-13 - Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. Parents are urged to be cautious. Some material may be inappropriate for pre-teenagers.
age 15+
Common Sense rating OK for kids 15+
age 15+

Common Sense Note

Parents need to know that American Teen is an eye-opening documentary that follows real high-school seniors from the small town of Warsaw, Ind., and doesn't flinch from showing them drinking, swearing, smoking, hooking up, and talking about sex. They also worry about their romantic relationships, peer pressure, college applications, scholarships, and grades. There's plenty of manipulative behavior and tons of emotional ups and downs, all of which teens are likely to recognize and identify with -- and parents may find themselves panicking about.

Sexual Content

Teens kiss and hold hands. One teenager discusses "doing it," while another sends a boy a topless photo of herself that's subsequently emailed around the school. Very drunk college-aged women kiss each other and a high-schooler.


No violence, but a couple of disturbing scenes include the discussion of a suicide and of Hannah's post-break-up depression.


Teenagers regularly use all of the usual curse words -- "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," "ass," etc. -- throughout the movie.

Social Behavior

The movie's main take-away for teens is that high school can be a difficult time for everyone -- and that everyone will have both highs and lows to deal with; how you handle each may not be perfect, but if you believe in yourself, you can make it through. The teens' relatability makes their experiences the kind that will really resonate with other kids.


Brands aren't "product placement," since this is a documentary, but they're definitely visible: Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister, Legend of Zelda, Mercedes, Ford, Apple iPods, etc.

Drugs / Tobacco / Alcohol

Teens are shown drinking heavily and smoking cigarettes. One boy's older brother makes a point of getting the younger man drunk when he comes to visit.

  • Age appropriate
  • Not an issue
  • Depends on your child and your family
  • Parents strongly cautioned
  • Not appropriate for kids of the age

This information for parents is provided by Common Sense Media, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving kids' media lives.

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