Film » Screens

City Limits

If you're young and female, New York Minute is your movie.

BY JEAN OPPENHEIMER

Mary-Kate and Ashley (or is that Ashley and - Mary-Kate?) cavort through the Big Apple.
  • Mary-Kate and Ashley (or is that Ashley and Mary-Kate?) cavort through the Big Apple.

That sound you hear is millions of teen and preteen girls, stampeding to movie theaters this weekend to catch sisters Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen in their first feature film since 1995's It Takes Two. The Olsen twins began their acting careers at the age of nine months when they were cast in Full House, one of television's most enduring "cute-kid" sitcoms. Over the years, they've starred in a wildly popular series of direct-to-video movies and launched a fashion-and-entertainment empire that earns more money annually than the gross national product of some countries. Now 17, these still adorable, blond, green-eyed pop-culture icons and industry mogulettes have returned to the big screen.

A high-energy action comedy, New York Minute finds the twins playing -- what else? -- twins. Ashley is Jane Ryan, a rigidly organized, detail-oriented overachiever who is an exemplary student, president of her high school class, and lead cheerleader; she dreams of attending England's Oxford University. Her rebellious sister Roxy (Mary-Kate) couldn't be more different, from her casual attire to her total lack of interest in school. The drummer in a rock band, Roxy has cut class so often, she heads the "Ten Most Wanted" list compiled by overly zealous truant officer Max Lomax (Eugene Levy).

New York Minute opens with a nervous Jane heading to Columbia University to give a speech that, with luck, will earn her a scholarship to Oxford. Roxy, meanwhile, is skipping school to attend a music-video shoot in downtown Manhattan (the Canadian band Simple Plan appears as itself), at which she hopes to slip a demo tape to the A&R team accompanying the band. The sisters, who have grown apart over time, find themselves on the same commuter train heading into the city, unaware that Lomax is hot on Roxy's trail.

In no time, Roxy gets both sisters kicked off the train. In quick succession, the girls find themselves pursued by members of a nefarious music-piracy operation; repeatedly kidnapped by an ostensible limousine driver; breaking into the hotel room of a visiting U.S. Senator; baby-sitting the Senator's dog, which has inadvertently swallowed the microchip the music pirates want; eluding both Lomax and the music pirates; trying to retrieve Jane's day-planner, which holds her notes for her big speech; and getting Jane to Columbia in time to give her speech.

The energy level and action never flag. A variety of characters wend their way through the film, appearing and reappearing before their true significance to the story is revealed. And by day's end -- no surprise -- the sisters realize how much they mean to each other.

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