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Review: Mini’s First Time

Mini’s First Time trades in black humor so dim you’d need a flashlight to find it.

Mini’s First Time
Photo: First Independent Pictures

A cheeky neo-noir that updates Double Indemnity for the high school set, Mini’s First Time trades in black humor so dim you’d need a flashlight to find it. Mini (barely legal Thirteen sexpot Nikki Reed) lives the neglected life in the Hollywood Hills with her slutty, alcoholic mom Diane (Carrie-Anne Moss) and her lawyer stepfather Martin (Alec Baldwin), so bored with being parentally mistreated and so driven to acquire new experiences (“firsts” she calls them) that she matter-of-factly launches a career as an escort. It’s a setup without a setup, Mini’s decision to become a whore as ridiculously abrupt as her personality is absurdly phony, the teenage vixen self-possessed and self-consciously conniving to the point that her femme fatale routine comes off as mere caricature. After Nikki’s second client turns out to be Martin, the two strike up a romantic relationship and hatch a nefarious plot to get rid of Diane, with their carefully thought-out scheme complicated—as they so often are in the fatalistic genre—by arrogance, foolishness, and the conspiring hand of fate. Unfortunately, first-time writer-director Nick Guthe not only fails to sustain his story’s suspense or generate any caustic hilarity (each nasty plot twist and bitchy retort less amusing than the last), but he can’t even muster up convincing cynicism about ritzy L.A. society’s depravity (which remains stereotypically one-dimensional) or under-21 Machiavellian deviousness (depicted as boundless). As with Pretty Persuasion, Mini’s First Time believes that nothing is more deliciously poisonous than a sweet young thing in pumps and a miniskirt, Guthe’s camera visually caressing Reed’s bikinied body at every turn as a means of equating her sexuality with power (a stark counterpoint to the less flattering compositions reserved for pathetically promiscuous Diane and her ilk). Yet as a superhuman creation impervious to doubt or pangs of conscience, Mini is just a cartoon predator cast in a Bratz mold, her every treacherous machination laced with watery arsenic and perpetrated in slinky fashionista outfits that make her seem like a little girl playing dress-up in mommy’s attention-grabbing garb. And following on the heels of the similarly minded Brick, Guthe’s hollow teenybopper noir isn’t even that one thing Mini prizes above all else: a first.

Cast: Alec Baldwin, Nikki Reed, Luke Wilson, Carrie-Anne Moss, Jeff Goldblum, Svetlana Metkina, Rick Fox Director: Nick Guthe Screenwriter: Nick Guthe Distributor: First Independent Pictures Running Time: 91 min Rating: R Year: 2006 Buy: Video

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