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American Girl (2002)

 -  Comedy | Crime | Drama  -  16 October 2002 (USA)
6.2
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Ratings: 6.2/10 from 1,195 users  
Reviews: 18 user | 6 critic

A pregnant teenager is determined to leave her trailer park home with the hope of living a happy family life.

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Title: American Girl (2002)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Rena Grubb
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Bikini Teen
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Kenton
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Madge Grubb
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Barbie
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...
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Faye
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Paramedic
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Short Guard
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Guard Damon
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Deputy Richard
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Hildegarde
David Dionisio ...
Burly Guard
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Storyline

The needy teenager Rena Grubb lives with her dysfunctional family of losers in a trailer park. The most popular boy in her school is dating her only for sex, and does not want to be seen with her. Her brother Jay is gay; her older half-sister Barbie is a bitch; and her mother Madge works hard in several low-qualification jobs to raise money to support her family. Rena is asking her mother to go to the annual picnic with her beloved missing low-fife father John Grubb, who is in prison sentenced to two life sentences. Rena is pregnant and collects the cards her father sends to her from the prison. When Madge decides to go with her family to the picnic, and along the day, the family finds how mean and nasty John is, shattering the dreams of Rena with her father. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Family is the ultimate life sentence.

Genres:

Comedy | Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexual content, language, teen suicidal behavior, and brief drug use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

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Release Date:

16 October 2002 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Confessions of an American Girl  »

Company Credits

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Did You Know?

Goofs

When Rena lies in the pool with the noose around her neck, the rope is floating towards her feet. In the next shot, it's above her head. See more »

Quotes

[Chris has just found out that his daughter Rena is pregnant]
John Grubb: So who's the daddy?
Madge Grubb: I... I don't know that she knows.
John Grubb: Well, at least Rena's popular.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Beyond Clueless (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Nursery Rhymes
Written and Performed by Christopher Mulkey
Courtesy of Christopher Mulkey
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User Reviews

 
Highly Recommended-Great Staging & Sequencing of a Complex Scene
28 July 2005 | by (Kentucky) – See all my reviews

If you like black comedy you should enjoy "Confessions of an American Girl". Rena (Jena Malone) is the embodiment of that old cartoon where the guy is sitting on the ground with a noose around his neck and a broken rope in his hand; captioned "some people can't do anything right". Rena lives in a mobile home with her somewhat "strange" family, is suicide challenged, is pregnant by a guy who doesn't want to be seen in public with her, and blames it all on the unfair eight year absence of her loving father, who is in prison for murder. Her dim memories of her father are somewhat biased. The highway and its exit ramps are metaphors for her life and her desire to end her life.

Alica Witt plays Rena's half-sister. Because Malone and Witt are arguably the most intelligent actresses in Hollywood, you immediately wonder about the wisdom of casting them as moronic trailer trash. But Malone has a special talent for playing this kind of "slack-jawed" character and Witt's standard sarcastic teen character works fine even in this environment. Their scenes together are the best ones in the film; with their reconciliation scene toward the end especially good.

Brad Renfro does a good job as Rena brother, O-Lon Jones (remember the waitress in Seinfeld's "Bubble Boy" episode) is excellent in a small role and Clifton Collins Jr. is great as Buddy, the prison trustee, who quickly sizes up the situation and sets the forces of change in motion.

While "American Girl" is an above average film, its main scene (the picnic at the prison which actually takes up the majority of the film) pushes it into cinema classic territory. This scene is an example of the way storytelling should be done, and the pacing is absolutely inspired. It is staged perfectly as Buddy orchestrates a sequence of revelations that changes all four visiting family members. Even if you hate the subject of this film it is worth watching just to see how wonderfully they manage this climatic scene. The disastrous visit over, the family leaves the prison with the statement "it went better than it could have".

Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.


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