19 Aug

Title: Twelve
Year: 2010
Director: Joel Schumacher
Writer: Jordan Melamed, adapted from the novel by Nick McDonell
Starring: Chace Crawford, Emma Roberts, Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson, Rory Culkin, Billy Magnussen, Zoë Kravitz, Kiefer Sutherland
MPAA Rating: R, strong drug content, alcohol abuse, language, sexual material, brief nudity and some violence – all involving teens
Runtime: 93 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating: 5.9
Rotten Tomatoes: 4%

Twelve is quite a pretentious little film, directed by Joel Schumacher, a guy who hits some (I’m thinking Phone Booth) but misses quite a few as well (I’m obviously thinking Batman & Robin), and who will now have to count this one amongst his misses, a film that had a seriously fantastic novel as a source material and that completely squanders any sort of potential the novel provided it with, this one just drags along boringly for an hour and a half.

I like Chace Crawford, I mean, he’s not that terrific an actor but he seems like a nice guy and, if you watch Gossip Girl, you’ll see that if he’s cast right he can be quite okay to watch, but if you watch Twelve then you’ll see just how horrible he is when he’s cast as seriously wrong as he was in this one. In this one he is White Mike, the guy who’s the drug dealer to exactly the sort of character Mr. Crawford plays in Gossip Girl, rich Upper East Siders, and he’s the antonym of convincing as White Mike, and considering that’s our main character I’m speaking of then you know we’re off to a horrible start.

I guess the genre and tonality of this film will grant it comparisons to Less Than Zero, the 1987 film adaptation of the outstanding Bret Easton Ellis novel starring a  young Robert Downey Jr., and while the source material for Twelve is, just like the Less Than Zero book was, pretty damn good, the page-to-screen transition result is widely different. This is a film that just gets entirely lost in its conceited demeanor and ends up nowhere.

Kiefer Sutherland narrates this film, he previously lent his voice as the unseen sniper on Mr. Schumacher’s far superior Phone Booth, and while the effectiveness of Mr. Sutherland’s voice cannot be doubted, it is after all part of the reason why America and the world loved Jack Bauer for nearly a decade, it’s just overused in this film, the narrator taking up way too much time on an already short film. And even though it’s short as far as running time goes, this one feels seriously long, dragging itself along rather boringly in between scenes of crazed teenagers, buzzed on the new drug named ‘twelve’, a hybrid of coke and ecstasy that White Mike got from Lionel, his drug supplier played by 50 Cent, the rapper-actor who’s not entirely bad at acting, but hasn’t yet found a single film that’s decent enough to be in.

There are some other characters, Emma Roberts is okay enough as Mike’s childhood best friend, Billy Magnussen is actually pretty damn good as an addict straight out of rehab, and Rory Culkin plays his younger brother. But the thing is that Twelve is just a highly stylized vision of a weekend full of teenage depravity, a vision that I didn’t like at all, because for once, we are introduced to way too many characters in too little time for there to be some actual solid character development, and, secondly, because what little character development there is done by the narrator telling stuff to us, and not that much by actual substantial stuff happening. That right there can only mean one thing, Mr. Schumacher knew his cast wasn’t talented enough to have stuff come through to us successfully, and thus had to go to a narrator to tell us stuff his own actors couldn’t, and that’s just rather sad.

And that’s rather sad because, guess what, the cast isn’t really that bad, except for Mr. Crawford who as I said was just simply horribly miscast, but Ms. Roberts and Mr. Magnussen both gave quite decent performances, and those performances most likely would have been much better had they been given room to grow. So yeah, Mr. Schumacher, this is kind of your fault, this film was never posed to be great, but still, it could have been a nice option to go see had you given your actors some room to be good, and had you cut the crap on your over-stylizing, slow-motion and shaky editing for instance, that stuff just can’t fix a film that was already broken.

Grade: C-


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