NEW YORK MINUTE
Since the death of their mother, twins Jane (Ashley Olsen) and Roxy (Mary-Kate Olsen) have drifted apart. Jane has become a top student, while Roxy has rebelled, cutting school and working on her band. Today is the most important day of Jane’s life. She hopes to win a scholarship to study at Oxford, and it’s time for her to deliver her speech to the awarding committee. But it’s a big day for Roxy too. She’s been invited to a video shoot for a band where she hopes to impress some A&R types with her band’s demo CD. Roxy cuts school yet again and the two girls leave Long Island to make their appointments in Manhattan. But Roxy is being pursued by the tenacious truant officer Max Lomax (Eugene Levy), who is determined to nab her. Things take a turn for the worse when the girls foolishly accept a lift from a stranger who turns out to be an inept gangster and music pirate (Andy Richter).
Review by David Edwards:
Review for pre-teen and teenage girls: Omigod, you guys! This movie is like so awesome. I mean, like, Mary-Kate and Ashley are sooo cool. We should like see this movie a hundred times.
Review for everyone else: Those doyens of tweeny cool and product placement, the Olsen twins, make their big screen debuts in this pacy but ridiculous movie. As noted above, those for whom the pair are idols won’t care a jot about the film’s shortcomings, and will probably see it regardless of any efforts by parents to steer them towards anything else. For the rest of us though, New York Minute will most likely prove a forgettable if not entirely unpleasant experience.
Dennie Gordon (whose credits include What a Girl Wants with that other tween superstar Amanda Bynes) directs with considerable energy, but all the direction in the world couldn’t overcome the monumentally daft screenplay. This is basically a chase movie, with our heroines being pursued around Manhattan by an assortment of crackpots and cute guys towards what is surely one of the most predictable endings of the year. Along the way, there are plot developments completely out of left field, a myriad of deliberately colourful yet shallow characters and a cute canine (and what tween movie would be complete without one of those).
The laughs are fairly infrequent; even for the mostly teenage audience at the preview I attended. Thankfully, there are very few toilet jokes (although a couple are thrown in) but most of the comedy seems to come from the girls looking surprised when they land in yet another kettle of hot water. Oddly, the film also lacks the usual “message” that we’ve come to expect from this kind of entertainment, replacing life lessons with a rather packaged corporate spiel about music and video piracy.
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen seem determined to prove that they’re “all grown up” in this film. Luckily for them, their acting has also matured over time, so that while they’re still a little cutesy, they at least have a bit of sass about them now. I was hoping for better things from the normally hilarious Eugene Levy as the truant officer, but he’s sadly hamstrung by a one-dimensional character and a script that allows him precious few opportunities to play his trademark deadpan humour. The same can be said for comedian Andy Richter – who’s normally pretty funny – as he falls flat in a moronic and borderline distasteful role.
New York Minute certainly plays deliberately to its target audience, and they’ll no doubt lap it all up. That however shouldn’t obscure the fact that this is a bland and often absurd movie.
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NEW YORK MINUTE (PG)
CAST: Ashley Olsen, Mary-Kate Olsen, Eugene Levy, Andy Richter, Riley Smith, Jared Padalecki, Drew Pinsky, Darrell Hammond, Andrea Martin, Alannah Ong
PRODUCER: Denise Di Novi, Ashley Olsen, Mary-Kate Olsen, Robert Thorne
DIRECTOR: Dennie Gordon
SCRIPT: Emily Fox, Adam Cooper, Bill Collage (story by Emily Fox)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Greg Gardiner, Sandi Sissel
EDITOR: Roderick Davis, Michael Jablow
MUSIC: George S. Clinton
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Michael Carlin
RUNNING TIME: 91 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 1, 2004