Coverage of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, who, at the age of 17, are, like, SO OVER being called the Olsen twins, inevitably focuses on the business empire built around the identical sisters with the blank ”manga” eyes and mall-rat ”Teen People” polish. They’re actresses, they’re producers, they’ve got their own fashion label, they sell videos, CDs, cosmetics, and for all I know they’re developing a theme park and a line of low-carb snacks. And now, with New York Minute, the Olsens add Hollywood theatrical movie to their catalog of industrial products, focusing on talent individuation as a branding objective. Sugarless gum has been marketed with more wit.
In this PowerPoint presentation from director Dennie Gordon, Ashley plays blond-streaked, 17-year-old Long Island overachiever Jane Ryan, opposite Mary-Kate as her rebellious twin sister Roxy, with extensive wardrobe changes conveying what the script by Adam Cooper and Bill Collage cannot. For ease of movement, the girls are given a dead mother and a vague father (TV ”addictologist” Dr. Drew Pinsky), whose approach to dealing with the glittery, look-don’t-touch sexuality of his pubescent daughters appears to be: ”Oops, late for work, gotta go.” The manufactured mayhem involves a speech at Columbia University (for Jane) and a Simple Plan video shoot (for Roxy), interrupted by stale mishaps exposing Andy Richter, Andrea Martin, and Eugene Levy, among other bamboozled adult costars.
In keeping with the sense of time compression for which the city is famous, ”New York Minute” flits restlessly all over NYC, chasing after the Olsens and the fruit of their curling irons. In one striking shot, the sisters fake-squabble at an angle that frames the magnificent Flatiron Building – a shining skyscraper when it was completed in 1903. The movie may be more bogus than a Gucci bag for sale on a Fifth Avenue sidewalk, but at least the backgrounds are real.