11 July 2004 | Victor Field
Not as bad as you might think. Honest.
Yes, "New York Minute" has taken even less cash at the US box office than "Around the World in 80 Days" (though since this didn't cost $110 million, ultimately Walden Media has the bigger flop on its hands). True, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen aren't going to give Lindsay Lohan (or indeed Dakota Fanning) any sleepless nights as far as acting goes. Indeed, this first big-screen starring vehicle isn't much of an advance from their small-screen ventures. And fair enough, it's aimed very much at a younger female audience. But does all that make this an unbearable movie?
Ultimately, no. From the opening shot of the Warner Bros. Pictures logo set to an electric guitar rearrangement of "As Time Goes By," you know what you're going to get - a shallow but harmless piece of fluff - and you get it. As is often the case with the not-all-that-gruesome twosome (see also "Billboard Dad" and "Two Of A Kind"), one twin - in this case Ashley - is a straight-laced type, the other is more casual and free-spirited. And as is also often the case ("When In Rome," "Winning London" - at least "Our Lips Are Sealed" wasn't called "Mary-Kate And Ashley Down Under"), the plot is an excuse for them to go gallivanting around a tourist-friendly spot, with the one sidetracked from delivering a speech for a spot at McGill University and the other waylaid from skipping school to go to a Simple Plan videoshoot, and everything but the kitchen sink chucked into the plot by writers Emily Fox, Adam Cooper and Bill Collage, from mild gross-out gags to a car chase (did I mention the vital microchip the twins get hold of?).
This makes "New York Minute" chaotic sometimes and flirting with stereotypes more often than not (the montage when our heroes wander into a salon staffed by blacks and get a makeover comes off worst - notice how many times the two get to change clothes in one day!), and it's never more than mildly amusing; the "It's time to get sentimental" moments also help make this seem so much like a TV movie that you wouldn't be surprised to hear an announcer say "Coming up after the break, it's 'That's So Raven'..." when the end credits start. Basically, the movie comes off like a decaffeinated take on "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," with Eugene Levy (stealing the movie as a super-dedicated truant officer) playing Jeffrey Jones to Mary-Kate Olsen's Matthew Broderick, but it's never really dull enough to hurt, helped along by an enjoyable (if sometimes overly insistent) score by George S. Clinton, and by the twins themselves. Ignore the plotholes and just go along for the ride; it's forgettable but painless.
By the way, Ashley Olsen (and presumably Mary-Kate as well) has beautiful legs. "Did I just say that out loud?"