Sundance 2010 Review: TWELVE
This review was written on February 4th at the Sundance Film Festival.
Writer: Jordan Melamed (screenplay), Nick McDonell (novel)
Director: Joel Schumacher
Cast: Chace Crawford, Rory Culkin, Ellen Barkin, Curtis '50 Cent' Jackson
Studio: Hannover House
Oh Joel, what are we going to do with you?
There are many disasters on Joel Schumacher's resume and in several different genres, including: musicals (THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA), supernatural thrillers (THE NUMBER 23), comic-book (the absolutely terrible BATMAN AND ROBIN), action thriller (THE BAD COMPANY) and many other misfires. Unfortunately, the man does more bad than good as director, but he tries. Schumacher is really quite prolific, despite so many failures- both at the box-office and critically.
Schumacher's recent film BLOOD CREEK (also known as TOWN CREEK) came out last year, but it did not get a proper theatrical release since Lionsgate only released it to a few dollar theaters in certain markets. My market just happened to be one of the few that received BLOOD CREEK. The film is not awful, but there was not much to like about it. A pretty basic, low-on-the-thrills horror film that (appropriately) came and went quietly.
Schumacher's latest film, TWELVE, is different in content and genre than BLOOD CREEK, but is not any better-it is actually worse. It sinks lower than mediocre into laughably bad territory with a hollow story about shallow, rich teenagers. At least the film's depth matches that of its characters, but that does not make anything notable or engaging. With TWELVE there is very little to like, but there is plenty to make you roll your eyes and check your watch 12,1434 times.
TWELVE's title is a bit cryptic if you are not familiar with the film, several people asked me what the film is about after I had told them I saw the screening. To avoid confusion, and to let everybody instantly know what to expect, they should change the name from TWELVE to Joel Schumacher's RICH KIDS. That is what the film is, Schumacher making an empty story about rich kids, and one former rich kid who is now a drug dealer to his former friends and classmates, called White Mike. His family lost their money when his mother fought and eventually died from breast cancer the year before.
There are many selfish characters in TWELVE, although I suppose White Mike (Chace Crawford) is not one of them, but there is not much depth for White Mike's character. We see him walk around with permanent beard scruff and a stoic expression, while dealing a lot of drugs. Occasionally he thinks about his deceased mother, or tries to get a hold of his drug addict cousin Charlie (Jeremy Allen White), or his best friend Hunter (Philip Ettinger) who has been arrested for suspicion of murder.
Just from talking about those characters you can start to see how over-the-top dramatic everything is with TWELVE. There is also the smart, girl character, who get's hooked on a new, extremely potent and addicting drug, TWELVE (there is the title), and is willing to do anything for her next hit. As well the shallow, beautiful girl who gets a catwalk on the street introduction, and seems to use every guy. There are even more troubled characters than that, but you get the idea. Plus, the intertwining stories are poorly-developed. TWELVE is like several lame, R-rated after-school specials crammed into one weak film.
TWELVE fails in more than just the story department. The acting is pretty terrible with a couple of the film's better performances actually achieving the realm of mediocre. The screenplay makes the characters uninteresting from the start, and the acting does not add anything to them. They are lifeless, one-dimensional characters that are too boring to even enjoy disliking.
TWELVE also features the overuse of a narrator. Why even have dialogue if you are going to give most of the lines to the narrator? Much of what the narrator says could be inferred or figured out if the film cared to try a little harder, but it does not, so we get a product that feels too much like a book on tape.
Before TWELVE played as the closing night film at Sundance, Joel Schumacher gave an affectionate introduction to the film that made the director instantly endearing, it was clear that TWELVE meant a lot to Joel Schumacher. Too bad he, or anybody else involved could not make the film mean anything to us. TWELVE will eventually be added to Schumacher's large failure pile.
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