Spun (2002) / Comedy-Drama
MPAA Rated: R for pervasive drug content, strong sexuality, language and some violence
Running Time: 100 min.
Cast: Jason Schwartzmann, Mickey Rourke, Brittany Murphy, John Leguizamo, Patrick Fugit, Mena Suvari
Director: Jonas Akerlund
Screenplay: Will De Los Santos, Creighton Vero
Review published June 15, 2002
If you've seen Trainspotting, Requiem for a Dream, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, then you've already seen Spun, even if you never bothered to watch it. Even if you haven't seen those others, unless you like an hour and a half of frenetic direction following unsavory characters in sleazy situations, there's really little else here to recommend. To properly relate to this rather anemic film, it might also help if you have been an addict yourself, and to really love this film, it might even require you to be sky high at the time you view it.
Most of the action follows Jason Schwartzman (Simone, Rushmore) as Ross, a meth addict looking to score a fix from dealer Spider Mike (Leguizamo, ZigZag). Things don't proceed according to plan, and Ross ends up playing chauffer for another addict, Nikki (Murphy, Summer Catch), who is a main squeeze of "The Cook" (Rourke, Get Carter), who runs his own meth lab from his apartment. Soon, he finds himself playing chauffer to The Cook as well, a trip which would be hard enough to deal with if he wasn't already tripping himself.
Not everyone is going to hate this film, as I'm sure there are people out there that must relate to the speed-freak mentality that Spun exudes in its short attention span style. It also is full of extreme envelope-pushing situations, and I can already tell you that if you laugh at anything that most other find offensive simply because it offends, you will most likely laugh your silly little ass off as characters shoot up, masturbate, defecate, and ejaculate at every opportunity to so.
I've never seen anyone try to hard to be unsettling as music video director Jonas Akerlund with this film, his first motion picture release. Lots of flashy camerawork is here on display, utilizing quick cuts, alternating points of view, and the occasional flashy montage. If Akerlund were to shoot someone turning on a light, he'd do it in 12 different angles culminating with a shot of the filament inside the bulb sizzling, not because it has anything to do with the story, but because he can. It's a disjointed experience, probably appropriate to the kind of film that it is, but that doesn't keep it from becoming exceedingly annoying. There's little respite from horrible cinematics, and much of it quite needless, as we can only sit by and idly watch a director masturbating his craft. Sure, this kind of thing could work in a 5 minute music video, but at 30 times the length, the gimmick wears thin, and quite quickly.
However, as poorly conceived as the direction is, nothing could have really brought Vero and De Los Santos' rather pointless script to life. There just isn't anything really tangible plot-wise, merely degenerate people and disturbing imagery, and even if the whole point of the film is to make you sick, I don't think most people go to the theater just for a feeling of repulsion, with good characters, story and originality pissed away to achieve it.
Spun is only recommended to one type of person: the one that wants to see John Leguizamo masturbating into a sock. That's as good a litmus test if I've ever heard of one, but then I could just as easily have used the "brown-eye view of Mena Suvari's stool extrusion."
If I've just made you sick, I should think you'll thank me for sparing you the experience of sitting through Spun, the most incessantly annoying and gratuitously repulsive film passing as a comedy since Freddy Got Fingered.
©2002 Vince Leo