You may not have heard of them, and you may not have seen their work, but identical twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen are already big media stars. They have been making television films in the USA for years, since they were eight years old. New York Minute is their first feature film.
Growing up on Long Island, just outside New York City, Roxanne and Jane Ryan (Mary-Kate and Ashley) are in their final year of school. Their mother died a few years earlier and each girl has coped in starkly contrasting ways. Jane is an overachiever. Roxanne is a good-time drop out. On the day that Jane goes for an interview for a scholarship to an overseas University, the local school inspector is hunting down Roxanne who has played truant one too many times. To avoid capture Roxanne joins her identical twin sister Jane running around Manhattan. A case of mistaken identity ensues.
It is claimed that the Olsen twins have two very different sets of fans: other young teenage girls, and admiring older men. New York Minute tries not to alienate either group.
This is a very slight farce, with a few funny moments, but generally jammed packed with predictable sight gags, several chase sequences, lots of slapstick and a teary ending. It re-visits, again, the theme of "I was stuffy, but now I've learnt how to have fun.'
The drama surrounding the impact of their mother's death is the most interesting vein in the film and the least explored. In this story the girl's father is emasculated.
By the end of New York Minute the Olsen twins emerge as symbols of girl power which will keep their loyal fans, at either end of the spectrum, very happy indeed.
Fr Richard Leonard SJ is the Director of the Australian Catholic Film Office.