It’s been extremely difficult to be critical of the films screened at Sundance this year. Given the offbeat nature of an overwhelming majority of the films, the fact that they were able to even get made is a bit of a marvel. Yet the talent and craftsmanship exhibited has been of such high caliber, that it seemed practically anomalous. Surely not EVERY film at the festival can be so great, right? Enter Joel Schumacher’s Twelve, starring Chase Crawford, Emma Roberts, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson. Vapid and pointless, it is downright shocking that this film would even be accepted to Sundance, let alone be the festivals closing premiere. Chalk up yet another loss for Mr. Schumacher. For more outrage, check out the review after the jump…
Twelve, based on the book written by Nick McDonell when he was 17 years old, is the story of a community of privileged teenagers from New York’s upper east side, coming home from their posh boarding schools for spring break to get into the kind of trouble that only rich white kids can: partying, sex, and drugs. With no parental involvement, things spin further out of control, and none of them realize just how out of their depth they really are.
The story revolves around prep school dropout turned drug dealer Mike, known to everyone as White Mike (Chace Crawford). After the loss of his mother to breast cancer, and with no sort of ambition, White Mike aimlessly wanders Manhattan, selling weed to his peers who have too much money and not enough responsibility. Because he neither drinks nor does drugs, he is able to remain in control in a way they can’t, but remains at a distance from the apparent fun they all seem to have. However, these kids are easily bored, and when an extremely addictive new designer drug called Twelve hits the market, it takes them all down a road more dangerous than any of them could have imagined.
The film features an ensemble cast of about a dozen gorgeous, up and coming teenagers. They are all very likely talented, but with maybe two exceptions, are stuck in roles that are so positively cliché and uninteresting that they hardly seem worth paying attention to. Each character is so despicably loathsome that there is absolutely no reason to remain involved in any aspect of the story. Even the adults in the film (Ellen Barkin in one brief scene, and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson doing exactly what you’d expect), whose characters hold most of the influence over the events in the film, are so bland that they aren’t worthy of any real regard.
The palpable ennui exuded by all the characters is eye-rollingly unjustifiable. One character even admits it, when he says “I think if I met myself, I would hate me.” This might be a touchingly vulnerable confession, but the issue is glossed over and ignored thenceforth. It is next to impossible to find any kind of sympathy for people who have the whole world handed to them and refuse to do anything with their opportunity but pour it down the drain.
Between the wardrobe, locations, and lighting design, and barely legal cheesecake, the film is about just barely stylish enough to be visually stimulating. However, this is most definitely not enough to sustain interest through the mere 90-minute runtime of this film. The decisions made throughout are so patently stupid that it’s exhausting to endure. If the film owned up to the fact that it were actually about what happens when parents ignore their duties to their children, it may have been slightly more engaging. Instead it just feels like a very special episode of Gossip Girl, right down the narration peppered throughout the film, explicating the elements of the story which the filmmakers and actors were apparently unable to convey. In a world where materialism trumps humanity, and no one actually accomplishes anything, audiences are not given one single reason to enjoy this film, and Twelve is a complete waste of time.