New York Minute

Movie Information

Genre: Teen Comedy
Director: Dennie Gordon
Starring: Ashley Olsen, Mary-Kate Olsen, Eugene Levy, Andy Richter, Riley Smith, Jaref Padalecki
Rated: PG

In what possible alternate universe could we really find an Olsen twin (I think it’s Mary-Kate, but it hardly matters) playing drums on a recording of “Suffragette City?” That’s not only just wrong, but there’s something a little creepy about either of these scrubbed-so-clean-they-squeak bastions of underage wholesomeness being involved in covering a David Bowie song about a “mellow-thighed chick” who just put the singer’s “spine out of place,” with the whole thing topped off with a rousing, “Wham, bam, thank you, ma’am!”

But let’s be honest: Who besides the little girls who got their parents to shell out for the Olsen-infested series of direct-to-video efforts like You’re Invited to Mary-Kate and Ashley’s Fashion Party is New York Minute aimed at, if not at people whose most overheated fantasies involve young, generically pretty, blonde twins? Put it this way: PG-rated though this film may be, if this were instead a Web site, Pete Townshend wouldn’t want it found on his computer’s hard-drive.

New York Minute is all about undressing these 17-year-old twins. There’s a fantasy sequence with a nude Olsen giving a speech. There are at least two Olsen shower scenes. There’s an Olsen clad only in a towel, an Olsen wrapped in nothing but a bathrobe, an Olsen minus her skirt and so on. And when Romantic Lead No. Two (Jared Padalecki) finds two scantily clad Olsens in a hotel room belonging to his mom (Andrea Martin), he asks, “Is it my birthday?” It doesn’t help that the 22-year-old Padalecki looks nearer to 30 (the other romantic lead, Riley Smith, is 26), even though he lives in apparent high-schoolish terror of his senator mother.

Who’s fooling who here? Once the tween and teen audience for this movie is factored out — along with their luckless parents — New York Minute is designed to appeal to persons who live in hope that as soon as the girls turn 18, they’ll do a Penthouse spread. And even setting the implications of this aside, the movie is still just criminally bad.

Here’s the Ferris Bueller-ish plot: Good girl Jane (Ashley) and “bad” girl Roxy (Mary-Kate) head for New York City for very different reasons — one to give a speech for an Oxford scholarship (puh-leeze), the other to crash a rock-video shoot. Once there, they both become unwittingly involved with a CD/DVD piracy ring lorded over by Bennie Bang (Andy Richter, Elf), a moron who thinks he’s Chinese and affects torturous Pidgin English. (Where are the activist groups that got Charlie Chan thrown off the Fox Movie Channel when you really need them?)

Everything is complicated when a truly ugly dog eats the microchip containing “millions of dollars” worth of bootlegged music. This last development leads to the “hysterical” spectacle of having to hang on to this upholstered mouse passing for a dog until nature takes its course. All this plus time out for incipient romance, sister bonding, lots of racist humor and a spectacularly unfunny — and slightly sick-making — performance from Eugene Levy (when was the last time he was really funny?) as a truant officer out to “nail” Roxy.

If you’re still reading this — and you oughtn’t be — I’ll add that the Olsen twins are just plain cosmically god-awful at acting, and are completely interchangeable with each other. (I like to think that they probably switched roles several times during filming and no one noticed.) If Mean Girls represents the best of the teen-movie genre, then this is the extreme other end of the spectrum. Hell, I’d rather have been watching a Hillary Duff movie.

— reviewed by Ken Hanke

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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