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New York Minute /

Rated: PG

Starring: Mary-Kate Olsen, Ashley Olsen, Eugene Levy, Andy Richter, Darrell Hammond

Directed by: Dennie Gordon

Produced by: Christine Sacani, Ashley Olsen, Mary-Kate Olsen, Denise DiNovi, Robert Thorne
Written by: Emily Fox, Adam Cooper, William Collage
Distributor: Warner Bros.


Movie Image
Movie Image
Movie Image

     Critics hold some kind of unrelieved malice towards Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. It seems like they have an inverse-reaction to every film the pair makes, as if they feel obligated to hastily dismiss the sisters’ films, in order to maintain their non-existent “cool”-quotients. While the motives I speak of are unconfirmed, of course, and will never be, the reviews of New York Minute prove that the press hasn’t become any less hostile towards the Olsens since their last effort, It Takes Two. I, myself, have been a faithful follower of Mary-Kate and Ashley for a long time, growing up watching their straight-to-video releases, in which they played child-detectives. And while I certainly am not prepared to defend New York Minute’s failures in the areas of dialogue and plot, I must, however, mention how wonderfully stylistic and charming it really is. It may not be a great movie, but I was entertained when watching it, feeling that the six-dollar admission price was well-spent. This, in itself, is just about all that matters.

     Mary-Kate and Ashley play two twins (big surprise!), named Jane and Roxy Ryan. The two characters are a classic pairing; both high seniors, one has aspirations to go to Oxford University, and the other to play in a band professionally. The movie takes place over one day’s time, with a simple structure, basically acting as a giant string of clichés to move the plot along. Jane will be giving a speech that could win her that scholarship to Oxford she so desperately wants, and Roxy will be forging a sick-note that will allow her to cut class, and attend a taping of a Simple Plan music video. At the taping, she will be able to hand her band’s demo tapes to some high-roller record executives, in efforts to land them a sweet deal. Both events take place in New York, but trouble is abundant in the city, as the two face gigantic problems along the way. These involve a big overseas-piracy deal, being kicked off their train-ride, having to borrow a state senator’s prized dog, and the potential of being captured by truancy officer Max Lomax (Eugene Levy).

     Practically every line of the movie feels like it has been (1) stolen from another picture, (2) written by a kindergartener, or (3) completely and entirely random. This all seems irrelevant when watching the Olsens, as well as Eugene Levy, though. They take the spotlight, and dazzle the audience with a thriving, almost poetic way of performing. Their presences are simply enough to elevate the mood of the average material, making New York Minute seem like a worthy and inventive effort. It is not as funny as any of the Olsens’ or Levy’s previous movies, but their charismas are just as wonderful this time as any other. I was genuinely amazed that they had me laughing as hard as I was at such dull and blasé material. At those moments, the film actually felt like some kind of surreal and refreshing experience, contrary my bottomless expectations (despite my positive feelings for the leading duo).

     Dennie Gordon (What A Girl Wants, Joe Dirt), who directed the film, does wonders at reincarnating the dead script, along with the cast. The mastermind behind some crappy TV-series and some even crappier flicks, the growth and development she exhibits in New York Minute should be rather startling to the limited amount of people familiar with her work. Maybe her uplifting, energetic style here signals a real career for her brewing. Then again, one funny movie versus fifteen brain-dead sitcoms doesn’t foreshadow any sort of miraculous rising in the near future.

     The sole factor that weighs the heaviest when I develop my opinion on a film is its entertainment value. Say what you want—no matter how much I take symbolism and intelligence into account—my being able to sit down and enjoy a movie is always the highest of my priorities when critiquing it. I was enthralled by New York Minute, pleasantly grinning at practically everything it threw at me. Gordon is onto something in her execution, and even if it isn’t fully present, it definitely captures the senses. Only sixteen percent of critics recommend the picture to moviegoers. Since the majority obviously doesn’t consider it to be a worthy rental, I am puzzled as to what they do. Simple, lighthearted, and fun, New York Minute is a joy to behold, in my book.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews (5.7.2004)

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