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"NEW YORK MINUTE"
(2004) (Ashley Olsen, Mary-Kate Olsen) (PG)

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QUICK TAKE:
Comedy: Twin sisters, who couldn't be more different from each other personality-wise, clash during a trip to Manhattan where things progressively get out of control for them.
PLOT:
Jane (ASHLEY OLSEN) and Roxy Ryan (MARY-KATE OLSEN) may be twin sisters, but beyond their identical looks, they couldn't be more different. Jane is an uptight good girl who's anxious about an upcoming speech that could win a scholarship to Oxford University.

Roxy, on the other hand, skips school so much that warrant officer Max Lomax (EUGENE LEVY) has been trailing her for years. Instead of being interested in academics like her sister, Roxy's ditched school so that she can attend a music video shoot and give her demo tape to the band's handlers.

Although the two don't get along, they end up traveling together to Manhattan for their respective missions. Yet, when a piracy thief slips a hot microchip into Roxy's bag to avoid being caught by the authorities, the twins' day is disrupted. Not only is Lomax hot on Roxy's trail, but they also now have another man following them.

He's Bennie Bang (ANDY RICHTER), a gangster wannabe who works for the entertainment pirates and now has Jane's all important day-planner, without which she'll be unable to give her speech. With the aid of Trey (JARED PADALECKI), the adult son of a Senator, and Jim (RILEY SMITH), a bike messenger, the teen twins try to accomplish their respective goals while continuing to clash with each other.

OUR TAKE: 2.5 out of 10
Imagine if you and your sibling were identical twins. There'd always be the problem of being mistaken for the other, coming off as something of a social sideshow attraction to the unenlightened public or being the fantasy, if of the female variety, of many a man's imagination. Then again, there would also be the good points, such as the ability to fool others about who's who as well as having that unique bond between each other.

Then again, you could star in a popular TV show for nearly a decade, make a series of profitable straight to video releases and then run an entertainment and lifestyle empire that now generates more than $1 billion in revenue annually.

Yes, I'm talking about Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, the nearly 18-year-old identical twins who debuted playing the same character on "Full House" and now hit the big screen in "New York Minute." While I'm not sure why they chose this exact moment and this particular film to break away from their successful straight to video franchise, there's no doubt that they're somewhat trying to break free of their previous mold.

In doing so, they'll certainly continue to play to their loyal audience, but also increasingly to those fantasy-driven adolescent and adult males. You see, not only have the two grown up into rather attractive young ladies, but they and the filmmakers have also apparently decided they needed a bit of sexualizing.

Accordingly, there's plenty of suggested nudity (just out of the camera shot), a view of them in skimpy attire (one wearing just a towel through Manhattan) and a number of double entendres that are relatively tame but will likely probably be rather shocking to some parents who viewed the two as innocuous entertainment types.

That said, it's all done in something of a corny, "wink-wink, nudge-nudge" fashion. After all, the film isn't the next bawdy "American Pie" (although one of that film series' performers is present), but rather an attempt at being an old-style screwball comedy.

Unfortunately, the script - by Emily Fox (making her debut), Adam Cooper and Bill Collage ("Wrong Turn," "I'll be Home for Christmas") - and direction under the helm of Dennie Gordon ("What a Girl Wants," "Joe Dirt") are so misguided and botched that only the youngest of the twins' fans will likely find the offering entertaining. While the two stars do have something of a screen presence - not to mention more money than you or I will probably ever see in our entire lifetimes - they certainly aren't the most talented comedic actresses around.

The result is a comedic misfire, albeit not one of colossal "Gigli" proportions" but instead one that certainly belies the temporal meaning of its title. Yes, despite running less than 90 minutes, this film feels like an eternity. Whether it's the forced comedy, unsuccessful screwball antics or rampant stereotypes, little if anything about the film works.

Part of the story involves Andy Richter ("Elf," "My Boss's Daughter") playing a bumbling criminal who wants his pirated microchip back (in a plot lifted from many an action comedy where the hot item is placed in the protagonist's belongings without them knowing it). Another has Eugene Levy ("A Mighty Wind," the "American Pie" films) doing the Ed Rooney thing from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" in pursuing a truant student.

While both are supposed to provide zany antics and complications to the girls' goals of giving a scholarship speech and attending a music video shoot respectively, neither generates anything that any sane person would consider funny, clever or original. Richter is rather bad in the part, while the usually funny Levy simply can't do anything with his poorly written role (and isn't as remotely fun as Jeffrey Jones in "Ferris").

I know, none of it's supposed to be taken even remotely seriously and that it's all supposed to be goofy and (fairly) innocent fun for a younger audience. Yet, the sexualization could make it a bit problematic for very young viewers, while the rest of the material simply isn't remotely smart or entertaining enough for everyone else.

While there's plenty of teen-oriented pop and rock music for the target audience, a "dress-up" montage in a Harlem beauty shop falls flat, and various cameos by the likes of Darrell Hammond, Jack Osbourne, Drew Pinksy and others don't do much to enhance the offering. Yes, there's even the obligatory Bob "Full House" Saget double-take, while Jared Padalecki ("Cheaper by the Dozen," TV's "Gilmore Girls") and Riley Smith ("Radio," "Eight Legged Freaks") are supposedly present to make the hearts of girls in the movie and those watching it go pitter-patter.

Befitting the movie's title, the film zigs and zags from one such appearance, comedy bit and adventure to the next, but without any apparent thought or plan of how it should all fit together. The result is a messy affair. Unless you're a diehard young fan of the Olsens (or get your jollies enjoying the thought of them and their newly realized sexual allure), you might want to give this one a pass. "New York Minute" rates as a 2.5 out of 10.




Reviewed May 3, 2004 / Posted May 7, 2004


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