CHENNAI: Director Trish Sie’s Netflix offering, “The Sleepover,” while funny and entertaining, reminded me of so many films — for instance, the James Bond adventures and “A History of Violence” — in which the lead character brilliantly conceals a secret past from their family. One day, however, the cat inevitably comes out of the bag, to use a cliché: Margot (Malin Akerman) reveals herself to be more than the woman she has transformed into as the wife of doting but clumsy pastry chef Ron (Ken Marino) and mother to teenager daughter Clancy (Sadie Stanley) and son Kevin (Maxwell Simkins), an amusing little brat oozing king-sized confidence. The kids soon discover that their seemingly normal mom is actually a former super thief in the Witness Protection Program.
A strict disciplinarian, Margot will not let her daughter even have a mobile telephone. Forget late night parties without parental supervision. Margot is a reformed citizen now, but some of her erstwhile partners in crime search her out and press her to rob a fabled crown off a dignitary’s head at a gala. Only Margot can accomplish this feat. Again, this reminded me of the classic Bollywood film “Jewel Thief,” in which a pack of crooks lift the crown off the Sikkim (when it was an independent State) queen’s head.
In “The Sleepover,” Margot’s kids and a couple of their friends come home one evening to find that she and Ron have been kidnapped. But Margot manages to leave behind a secret message, which Clancy decodes. The four children transform into super sleuths (à la Enid Blyton’s “Five Find-Outers”) and stumble upon many bewildering things, including an arsenal that would put Bond to shame. All these once belonged to Margot and her murky crew.
The kids cannot believe that their mother could have been a notorious thief, and true to this, Margot leads us to a kind of mission impossible climax, only that “The Sleepover” is far less serious and far wittier. Yes, it is silly and whimsical, but it may provide a bit of fun. Remember to take off your thinking caps while watching Margot; her bumbling hubby and wide-eyed children go about their game, overpowering the guards at the gala venue and finally the blackmailing the bad men who had forced Margot to shed her veneer of decency to keep her little family safe.