As two sisters who have little in common, metalhead Roxy (Mary-Kate Olsen) and control freak Jane (Ashley Olsen) are preparing for a big day in their young lives. Heading into New York City so Jane can give a speech that will determine her collegiate future, and so Roxy can skip school to attend a music video shoot, the two girls quickly fall into madcap trouble when a valuable computer chip falls into their possession, and a ruthless Asian assassin (Andy Richter, who deserves better) wants it back. Also on their heels is Max Lomax (Eugene Levy, paying bills), a truant officer who has been after Roxy for years, and spies a chance to bust her once and for all. Running back and forth through the streets and sewers of New York, the two girls struggle to work together, after years of an antagonistic relationship, to save the day.
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen have sold millions of CDs, videos, and various other trinkets to families across America for nearly 15 years. Combined, they are worth a vast fortune, and they're only the ripe young age of 17. But their latest film, "New York Minute" (IMDb listing), reveals the dark truth about these unlikely media moguls: they can't act.
"Minute" is a transparent attempt to take the Olsen sisters from the easygoing likeability of childhood to the unsophisticated, judgmental world of teenagers. Why would they want to leave such a good thing, I'll never know. But if "Minute" is a warning shot for what's to come from the former Olsen Twins, we should all run for cover.
A frenzied, disorderly take on comic slapstick and farcical plotting, "Minute" can claim one victory: it never tuckers out. Edited without any common sense (there's a lot of split-screen for no good reason), and persistently moving the narrative along so nobody can ponder the offensiveness of the stereotypes presented or the jokes delivered, "Minute" doesn't ever take a breath. Directed by Dennie Gordon ("Joe Dirt," "What a Girl Wants"), the film is like an "I Love Lucy" sketch crossed with a lame music video, much like the one the "band" Simple Plan makes in the film. The results are irritating and deeply unfunny. The unfunny part is odd, since there are so many comic talents to count on for giggles. Eugene Levy, "Saturday Night Live's" Darrell Hammond, Andrea Martin, and Andy Richter all look very lost trying to be goofy in a picture that doesn't deserve them.
Stepping away from their straight-to-video gridlock of fame, Mary-Kate and Ashley aren't exactly barnstorming comedic talents. Spending their whole lives coasting on their youthful looks, "Minute" makes the loss of that crutch painfully clear. Cursed with a chirpy monotone and a well-oiled ease in front of the camera, the sisters aren't a disaster in their lead roles, but their bland delivery and reliance on chic outfits and hairstyles grows tiresome. Once the moment of "drama" comes around mid-movie, it's clear that Mary-Kate and Ashley aren't exactly ready for the big screen like their competition, such as Lindsay Lohan or Hilary Duff. Their cherubic faces are blossoming into womanhood, effectively destroying their marketability as pre-teen icons, and revealing what little appeal they truly have.
I must admit, to have a film about teenagers that doesn't feature cliques, high school, or '80s nostalgia is nice, and the Olsen sisters deserve some credit for avoiding these plots that have recently clogged the marketplace. But a fresh angle on teendom isn't enough to excuse the rest of this shrill picture.
Filmfodder Grade: D