NEW YORK MINUTE

PG
Reviews

When they turned 16, the Olsen Twins gave themselves Range Rovers--Ashley's was black and Mary-Kate's was green--but that was then, and this is now: On June 13, the blondes will hit The Big One Eight, and they're marking this it's-all-over milestone with their first feature film as teenagers. Their only previous feature, It Takes Two in 1995, didn't add up to much, but they've kept their four hands in with a pretty constant outpouring of direct-to-video romps that have won fans among the teen-and-tween set.

Now that they're on the doorstop of adulthood, the duo decided to expand this fan base to a more mature market. To that end, New York Minute is a little something that they produced themselves, with all sorts of handmaidens in attendance (including people billed as "wardrobe advisers"). Warner Bros., which distributed most of the twins' video romps, makes them feel right at home on the big screen, too, by reworking their opening logo theme, "As Time Goes By," into raucous rock. (Bogey and Bergman must be spinning.)

Babies turned babes, Ashley and Mary-Kate have grown up in public--starting with alternating the role of Michelle Tanner on TV's "Full House" from 1987 to 1995 (i.e., from nine months to nine years). At series' end, rather than fade into Has-Been Land, they became a company, Dualstar, which has turned out dozens of videos (shorts and features), 169 books, five TV shows and a clothing line that grosses beyond $1 billion every year.

Clearly, a day off was called for--so perhaps that's why, plot-wise, they've chosen to follow Ferris Bueller's lead for their new film by skipping school and frolicking in the big city. That's the airhead storyline Emily Fox has come up with and co-scripted with Adam Cooper and Bill Collage, all in film bows, and director Dennie Gordon (Joe Dirt, What a Girl Wants) keeps things bouncing along at a brisk clip so you don't have to think much.

Chicago was Ferris Bueller's playground; the twins have picked New York City, which is played here quite convincingly and not so you'd notice by Toronto. Some extensive NYC location work has been done, hitting most of the major landmark sites. Every shot counts.

Here the Olsens play a pair of sullenly estranged Long Island twins as different as day and night (at least on paper). Ashley is the brainy, immaculately attired goody-two-shoes who is delivering at Columbia what she hopes is a scholarship-winning speech; Mary-Kate is the grungily garbed slacker-rocker who wants to slip her demo tape to the right party at a Simple Plan music-video shoot. So the two strike out, as a reluctant one, for Manhattan.

In pursuit of them is a truancy officer with zeal of steel (Eugene Levy plays him broadly like Javert-by-way-of-Clouseau). Then the chase accidentally acquires a nefarious type involved in a black market deal gone awry (Andy Richter plays him with an exceedingly annoying, supposedly comedic voice--and bangs that would only work in the court of Nero). In the homestretch, the plot takes a nasty dognapping turn, the pooch belonging to a U.S. Senator (the brilliantly funny Andrea Martin, who has nothing to play, more's the pity).

There's some lite romancing along the way. As befits the beaus of twins, Jared Palecki and Riley Smith look handsomely interchangeable. And all join hands for a rockin' finale.

Histrionically speaking, the Olsens couldn't be called twin peaks, but they're getting there. Sometimes you think you're seeing Kristin Chenoweth doubled. The girls have the same squeaky sounds and squeaky-clean demeanor, no matter what they're asked to play.

-Harry Haun