The Sleepover review: Netflix’s lighthearted action-drama is not for cinema snobs

Language: English

While our activities outside the house have clamped down drastically, that same time can now be redirected to a movie watching session. The Sleepover, an action-comedy directed by Trish Sie, is the latest addition to Netflix’s roster of films you can watch over the weekend without thinking too much.

The plot is simple, and stays in the territory of familiar comedic and action tropes. The Finch family’s suburban life is endangered when Margot’s (the mother played by Malin Åkerman) past as an international jewel thief is revealed. She has been laying low in witness protection for more than a decade after outing her mafia boss, a fact she had successfully concealed from her husband Ron (Ken Marino), and the kids Clancy (Sadie Stanley) and Kevin (Maxwell Simkins). After a bully-made video of Kevin dancing in the school bathroom ends up a viral sensation, her old boss’s goons track her down. At gunpoint, Margot is coerced into orchestrating one last robbery with her former fiancé and partner-in-crime Leo (Joe Manganiello). She leaves behind clues that the kids now have to piece together before they set off on the search-and-rescue mission along with their two best friends – the sassy Mim (Cree Cicchinio) and the rule abiding Lewis (Lucas Jaye).

Simkins is hilarious and goofy as Kevin — the film opens to him confidently narrating the plot of Ridley Scott’s The Martian as part of a family history project to his unconvinced classmates and an even less amused teacher. Meanwhile, his teenage big sister is the “band geek” a talented cellist with self-confidence issues, worsened by the embarrassing fact that she’s the last person to not own a phone. “She (Margot) thinks social media is where serial killers and college admissions departments find information on you,” Clancy tells her crush Travis.

Marino’s Ron is a potential dad joke telling goof, a pastry chef, who regularly exercises his fingers with hand grippers, and is threatened by the chiseled Manganiello. Margot is a stay-at-home mom regularly volunteering at the school with a slight hint of her old self still intact (when she sets her son’s bullies straight). Though only a supporting character, Cicchinio performance as Clancy’s ride-or-die Mim, who also occasionally drops cheeky one-liners, is the most enjoyable.

The Sleepover is a tepid nod to the Spy Kids movies (an iconic series), especially seen in scenes where the kids discover a treasure trove of James Bond-like devices in Margot’s storage locker. The gadgets are all but forgotten for their mission except for when they take the self-driving car for a spin (all four burst out screaming) in “predator mode” or when Kevin burns down cars with his laser beam pen.

Although the characters are instantly likeable, their quirks alone cannot carry the entire movie. There is nothing iconic about The Sleepover with its formulaic storyline and tedious action sequences (there’s even a car chase). A special, long-winded sequence dedicated to Ron’s projectile vomiting and farting that blows Margot, his and Leo’s cover was completely unwanted and may gross out some viewers (I am not averse to toilet humour).

The Sleepover is the streaming platform equivalent of one of the many made-for-TV films that have come and gone. It does not take itself seriously, and can be fully enjoyed if you avoid nitpicking its flaws.

The Sleepover is now streaming on Netflix.

Watch the trailer here

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