American Reject is the kind of movie we used to get a lot of in the early 2000’s: A light, funny, and cheerful movie you can turn on when you just want to feel good. The performances are good across the board, the songs are catchy, and the satire of American Idol-esque television series brought me several laughs throughout its brisk 80-minute runtime (not including an awesome sequence during the credits in which the cast dances and sings to one of the film’s songs that you should absolutely stay for). American Reject is the kind of light, funny, and feel-good kind of movie I think audiences will latch onto.
American Reject Official Trailer
Hopeful singer Kay (Kathleen Elizabeth Monteleone, who also wrote and produced the film) has just lost her spot on the music show Pop Star Now! and ended her tenure with a Janet-Jackson-mirroring wardrobe malfunction seen the world over. Booted back to her old town and followed around by a cameraman (Frank Monteleone) for a “Where Are They Now” kind of follow-up show, Kay slowly reconnects with her mom (Connie Ray), old best friend Nano (Annaleigh Ashford), and decides to repair her national reputation by helping the town raise money for a music show.
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American Reject hits just about every familiar beat you’ve seen in movies like this, but it still works. Just because you’ve seen something done before doesn’t mean that it can’t be done well again, and Monteleone’s script is quick and funny enough to make it easy to go along for the ride. In the lead role, she gives off a similar vibe to the late great Brittany Murphy and makes Kay’s arc to becoming a kinder person feel genuine, plus she has a solid singing voice.
I also appreciate that her script isn’t mired in crude or gross-out jokes, but rather finds its humor in the character interactions, relationships, and satire of the story.
Speaking of that satire, once again it’s familiar but well-done. I love that the singer Kay loses to on Pop Star Now! is played by Rebecca Black (who portrays the character’s vapid nature excellently with limited screentime), likely cast partially in reference to her own real-life musical success a few years back with Friday and other similar pop hits of the day. We also get one of those fast-talking business-minded producer characters here played by Jenn Harris. I enjoy satires of pretty much any kind when they’re done well, so on that level, American Reject passes with flying colors.
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However, there’s more going on here than that. We have a few subplots running through here that are effective, but I wouldn’t have minded seeing them given more time too. First up (and the more successful of the subs) is Kay’s relationship with her embittered friend Nano. We learn that Kay pretty much left Nano in the dust upon becoming famous on Pop Star Now! and resultingly wasn’t there for support during some notable events in Nano’s life.
As is custom with these kinds of stories, the two eventually reconcile their differences and end the movie on the road to being besties again, but the chemistry the two share throughout really sells you on it despite its slightly rushed nature.
The other, somewhat less successful subplot is the one involving Kay and her mother Bonnie. Our first impression of Bonnie is that she’s one of those quirky moms who dances around in leotards and shares too much information sometimes, but is generally well-meaning. However, a dramatic scene late into the film has Kay getting onto her mother being suffocating, thus why she left the nest for 5 years. It’s well-written and acted by both parties, but I didn’t feel there was enough build-up to it beforehand to make it emotional the way the movie wants it to be.
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Last, but not least, we have the subplot of Kay helping the town prepare for the music show. While we don’t see them practice much, the group of characters are enjoyable enough and new child actor Angelica Hale is fine. It’s also kind of funny that the film introduces a love interest for Kay about an hour into the runtime and develops it over a montage, but that’s more a minor nitpick than anything. Again, stay through the credits to see all the cast members singing and dancing to one of the film’s tunes and the smiles on their faces. It looks like this was immensely fun to shoot.
American Reject is lightweight, toe-tapping, and funny entertainment for grown-ups that should leave a smile on your face and a spring in your step. See it. Overall American Reject is a fun time, so I give it a 3/5.
American Reject is set to premiere today on Video on Demand. You can pre-order/order your viewing of American Reject now.
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