- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 6, 2004

There’s a scene in the middle of the Olsen twins’ “New York Minute” when their ex-“Full House” cast mate Bob Saget catches the duo scampering through the Big Apple wearing nothing but hotel room towels.

He looks — part ogle, part amazement — then turns away.

We know how he feels.

The actresses’ attempt to hijack the big screen, after conquering squishy sitcoms and direct-to-video tripe, hits some curious snags in “New York Minute.”

The action comedy casts the 17-year-olds as sororal polar opposites who inexplicably bond during some adventurous moments in the big city.

The real story is whether the twins can sell their preteen appeal to the Britney crowd, those tweeners who like their heroines to appear virginal but dress a tad trampy.

“Minute’s” snappy opening credits give way to a pivotal day in the lives of sisters Jane (Ashley Olsen) and Roxy (Mary-Kate Olsen). Demure Jane is prepping for a speech that could win her an Oxford scholarship. Rockin’ Roxy is knee deep in demo tapes for a band we never hear or see.

Both grudgingly travel into the city together but run into half a dozen awkwardly staged roadblocks.

They get mixed up with a chubby white fellow who thinks he’s Asian (Andy Richter, whose work is so stereotyped a gong sounds at one point when he appears). Mr. Richter’s character peddles pirated movies and slips some incriminating evidence into one of the girl’s purses when the cops get too close to his trail.

Which girl? Who can tell them apart?

Thank goodness for Roxy’s raccoon-style eye makeup. It’s all we’ve got to separate the two.

Jane’s prim ensemble then gets doused by a wino’s spilled drink and splashed by puddle water. And that’s before a cute bicyclist accidentally hooks onto her skirt and rips away enough material to leave her with a miniskirt.

Hot on their trail is a zealous truant officer (Eugene Levy, who provides the film’s few chuckles but needs to stop finding bad movies in need of rescue) out to nab the rebellious Roxy.

Veteran TV director Dennie Gordon wisely keeps the pace chugging along, even if his film casts aside nearly all logic in its wake. When “Minute” does take a breath, it’s to ladle out platitudes about sisterly love.

The siblings literally make the same speech to each other twice about how they should spend more time together.

By the time the story reveals that their mom passed away years ago, even wide-eyed girls in the theater will have begun a lifetime of eye-rolling at bad cinema.

Traditionalists will decry how the film sexualizes preteen girls, setting an awful example for the twins’ Hello Kitty-age fan base. Social liberals will counter that these gals are nearly 18 and are entitled to a life of their own, one that includes some fashionably chic attire.

The truth floats somewhere in between, but consider that even though the actresses are nearly 18, they still look like they should be inscribing boys’ names surrounded by hearts and flowers on their notebooks.

Watching Roxy kiss a senator’s grown son caused uncomfortable chair shifting at a screening earlier this week.

Preteen girls will eat up the girl power subplots and fashionable costume changes.

For the rest of us, the Olsen twins’ big debut will seem like one endless “Minute.”


WHAT: “New York Minute”

RATING: PG (Mild sensuality, comical violence)

CREDITS: Directed by Dennie Gordon. Produced by Denise Di Novi, Robert Thorne, Mary-Kate Olsen and Ashley Olsen

RUNNING TIME: 86 minutes

WEB SITE: www.newyorkminutemovie.com




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