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Starring Jason Schwartzman, John Leguizamo, Mena Suvari, Patrick Fugit, Peter Stormare, Brittany Murphy and Mickey Rourke
Screenplay by Will de los Santos and Creighton Vero
Directed by Jonas Akerlund

IN SHORT: More fun with dope dealers and dope users. Been there, done that. [Not Rated -- though previously rated [R] in 2002. 96 minutes]

It's been enough years since trainspotting set the high bar for movies about drug dealing and drug use that, a consumer's memory being a short term thing, it's no surprise that we're seeing films that are, if not inspired by that film, treading the same territory. Spun tries its hardest to look like a gritty urban film. At it's core, it's just a story of meth amphetamine snorters who are ten days into a sleep-free binge and need to get more drugs. Visually it's so grainy we're guessing it was shot on low quality video and then blasted up to film stock. Director Jonas Akerlund has also decided that he must show us some representation of the initial rush from each snort -- the usual hard cut, fast edit and sound effect overkill -- and he does this every time grains go up a nostril, which they do a lot. Consistency, in this case, is annoying. We get the point. Move on.

Spider Mike (John Leguizamo) sells crystal meth. Ross (Jason Schwartzman) uses a lot of it. So does Cookie (Mena Suvari) and her vidgame loving boyfriend, Frisbee (Patrick Fugit). So does Nikki (Brittany Murphy) who probably "needs" the speed to keep her fit and trim form as a business expense. She dances in a strip club as does April (Chloe Hunter) who trades sex for some of Ross' stash. Ross, it should be pointed out, likes his sex complimented with accessories like handcuffs and duct tape, and April spends most of this movie indisposed in a manner designed to make you remember her scenes in a manner not unlike (though totally different) a certain scene in trainspotting involving climbing into a toilet.

Mike would be a good dealer except that he went down to the liquor store and lost his stash. Ross would be a great lover except for the fact that he is number two to The Cook (Mickey Rourke) and must be at ready to drive the boss around town at the drop of a hat. Even the cops in this tiny little story (Peter Stormare and Alexis Arquette) are wired on The Cook's product. That being said, all that remains of this film are characters that aren't much deeper than a stagnant puzzle and visual effects, as described above, that are overused far past the point of annoyance.

That's a shame because the film has a portrait of a subculture, at least from where we were sitting, virtually screaming to get out. At minimum, there is very little work that actor John Leguizamo does that we won't sit for and, even playing the scum of the earth, he manages to build a great character. But a script which relies on gimmicks and surprises (check out Frisbee's mom if you see the film) instead of concentrating on building more than a mechanically conceived and delivered story isn't one we can recommend.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Spun, he would have paid . . .



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