“The Sleepover” is a quick and dirty “Spy Kids” spin where the kids aren’t spies at all. They just miss Mommy and Daddy.
Why? Because over-protective Mom (Malin Akerman) and dorky Dad (Ken Marino) have been kidnapped right under the nose of mouthy middle schooler Kevin (Maxwell Simkins), who was having a sleepover campout with his high-maintenance pal Lewis (Lucas Jaye) in the back yard.
And dang-it-all, tonight of all nights! Fifteen year-old cellist Clancy (Sadie Stanley) was in her “tight jeans,” all-dolled-up to sneak out with BFF Mim (Cree Cicchino) to a “senior” party hosted by Mr. “My parents are out of town, you should COME” that Clancy has a crush on.
Clancy has to lead this not-driving-age quartet from Cape Cod to “the city” (Boston), piecing together clues that Mom, who ISN’T who she seems to be, has left behind, intentionally or accidentally.
“Dude, your mom is into some ‘Da Vinci Code’ stuff,” churps Mim, the life of this party.
Mom won that “over-protective” to the point of “pathetic” label from Clancy because she’s the only teen at Harborview High without a cell phone.
“She thinks social media is where murderers and college admissions departments get their information about you.”
Dad’s a dork because he’s a pastry chef who drives a mini-van, exercising his “dough kneading” fingers as he waits in the car pool lane singing along with Paula Cole to “Where Have all the Cowboys Gone.”
But one viral video of Kevin, a polished, fantastical liar and aspiring boy’s restroom dancer, busting a middle school move, and kidnappers show up, shocking everybody BUT Mom.
“Your wife is a very dangerous woman, Mr. Finch. Or used to be.”
The story isn’t as engrossing a mystery as you’d hope, with “clues” and a pursuit that seem pre-ordained and dumb.
The action beats are a study in creative editing, as Akerman must display action heroine prowess that isn’t her forte.
Hey, YOU try to bowl over security guards wearing a tight slit skirt and high heels!
The comedy hinges on Simkins’ goofy, nerdy lies and Cicchino’s droll, mature-for-her-age put-downs.
There’s just enough here that you can see why Akerman and Joe Manganiello (playing Mom’s “ex,” and a peek into her torrid, action-packed past) would take the parts and the cash. No, it doesn’t have even a hint of “edge,” but most parents want their kids’ entertainment inoffensive.
“Sleepover” is cheerful enough that it passes the time, even as that time passes ever-so-slowly as it stumbles for clues, through a Boston sight gag or two and into the “big finish” that’s more a series of minor busts.
Leave this one to the tween-and-unders.
MPAA Rating: TV-PG, violence
Credits: Directed by Trish Sie, script by Sarah Rothschild.