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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

New York Minute (review)

The Naked City

As far as I can determine, New York Minute is aimed at two very distinct audiences.

The first is, naturally, dreamy tweens who’ve bought into the Olsen Marketing Machine and think they’re fabulous and would plunk down Mom and Dad’s money to watch Ashley and Mary-Kate spackling tile but even better if they get to run around the big city on a school day having adventures and snagging gorgeous boyfriends. As a contemporary if watered-down updating of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, there’s not too much to get yer dander up. This is bland, obvious, and basically harmless pabulum, about two sisters who’re night-and-day opposites who learn to appreciate each other while also thwarting those most evil of villains: CD and DVD pirates. The ending is a veritable implosion of awkward happy-sappiness, so unlikely a wrapup of everything that’s come before that you can’t believe the army of screenwriters got away with it, but this is the state of entertainment for kids these days: everyone has to work together and things must turn out okay. It’s enough to make yearn for the comparative psychological and storytelling complexity of Ferris, but even that is barely enough to elicit more than a resigned sigh and shrug from the likes of me.
But there’s another side to the film that nauseates me: the PG-porn undertone, aimed straight at all the adult heterosexual men who’re counting the days until June 13 of this year, when the Olsens turn 18 and these horndogs no longer have to hide a lust that is no longer near-pedophiliac. It’ll likely go pretty much over the heads of the dreamy tweens, but for anyone who knows about the online countdowns to the Olsens’ majority (to which I refuse to link — find ’em yourself if you must), it’s really, really icky. Like:

= How many shower scenes are actually required in an Olsens movie? (At least they’re not showering together — that’ll be in their next movie.) Was it truly necessary to show us a huge Freudian snake sneaking into the shower with one of the girls? Eww.

= How is it that straight-arrow Jane’s (Ashley) demure skirt can rip into a sexy, leg-baring mini at the behest of dreamboat Jim, The Bike Messenger (Riley Smith: Radio, Eight Legged Freaks)?

= Isn’t it just drooling fantasy to have an almost naked guy (Jared Padalecki: Gilmore Girls) burst in on the almost naked Olsens in his hotel room (where they’ve snuck in for, yes, another shower)? Isn’t it kinda gross for him to then hoot, “Is it my birthday?” as if the nearly naked Olsens were his present?

= Why o why must the Olsens run around Manhattan in nothing but a skimpy towel (Ashley) and a skimpy bathrobe (Mary-Kate)? How does Ashley’s towel stay up when she doesn’t even tuck it all the way up to her armpits but lets it rest far enough down to make even the dogs they pass in the streets pant? Now I need a shower.

= How come the Olsens exit their wacky-wardrobe-change montage looking like hookers?

= Who came up with the idea of Dr. Drew Pinsky — you know, the MTV sex answer guy — playing the girls’ dad? It’s not like he’s done any acting before. He just shows up here and makes you blink uncomprehendingly with his presence and go, “Whoa” and then want to ask him a dozen questions about inappropriate sexual feelings.

= Isn’t it kind of creepy how obsessed truant officer Max Lomax (Eugene Levy: Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd, A Mighty Wind) is with catching Nassau County’s number-one truant, Roxy (Mary-Kate)? Middle-aged guy chasing (allegedly) hot, hot, hot teenage girl? Eww again.

With all that mind, expect a couple creepy old guys in raincoats among the tween audience at the multiplex.

[reader comments on this review]

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MPAA: rated PG for mild sensuality and thematic elements

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb
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