A walk down memory lane through Mary-Kate and Ashley’s final film. PHOTO CREDIT: Prime Video

Growing up, like many 2000s babies, I was a regular watcher of all things Disney Channel, Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network. Yet, I had an affinity for older DVD box sets and, to this day, “Full House” remains one of my favorite series of all time.

Through the sitcom, I fell in love with Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen and the many films they starred in during their young acting career, from “Switching Goals” to “Billboard Dad” to “It Takes Two” and “Passport to Paris.” Perhaps their most famous was also their last project together, 2004’s iconic teen comedy “New York Minute.”
I definitely saw this movie when I was younger, but I also haven’t seen it since elementary school. So, when it hit Netflix recently, I knew I had to take a trip down memory lane and watch the Olsen twins in their final masterpiece before switching careers and becoming award-winning fashion designers.

The plot of “New York Minute” is both simple and complicated, as the premise is somewhat basic and along the lines of many of their projects, but the many twists and turns manage to pack a lot into this 90-minute chaotic story. 

Jane (Ashley) and Roxy (Mary-Kate) Ryan could not be any more different. Jane is an uptight perfectionist who is preparing to give a speech in New York City in order to win the McGill Fellowship to attend Oxford University. Roxy is a rocker girl who’s skipping school, and not for the first time by any means, to be featured in a Simple Plan music video that was going to be filmed in Times Square. It’s the epitome of early 2000s style, music and pop culture references, including what could possibly be the best use of Avril Lavigne’s 2002 hit “Complicated.”

Having the Olsens play polar opposites is a theme throughout their works, with Ashley slipping into the girlier roles while Mary-Kate usually plays the sporty tomboy. Though they are fraternal twins, making their characters so stereotypically distinct does make it easier to tell them apart. I’m proud to say that I was able to tell them apart from the very first scene–it’s all about the cheeks.

Another theme is that their mom is dead and they’re being raised by a single father–see also “Full House” and “Two of a Kind.” As for the reason for this? I’m not exactly sure.

Roxy skipping class is where we meet our first antagonist, Max Lomax (Eugene Levy), a truancy officer who is obsessed with catching Roxy and sending her to detention after she’s evaded his efforts to catch her so many times. Lomax is convinced that if he can turn her in, he’ll be able to get a promotion and become a police officer. He’s clearly delusional and has a very similar energy to the principal in 1986’s “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” except it comes off slightly creepier when the camera pans to Lomax’s basement full of pictures of the 17-year-old girl. It’s still great to see Levy, who I believe is hilarious in everything he does.

This is one of those films where basically everything that can go wrong does, but somehow everything ends up alright in the end. On top of trying to escape Lomax and make it to their respective destinations, they get caught up with Bennie Bang (Andy Richter), his Chinese adoptive mother and their illegal pirating schemes when a chip gets planted in Roxy’s bag. The scenes with Richter are what clearly age the film and highlight its problematic nature. The white actor puts on a stereotypical, offensive Asian accent and quotes “Chinese proverbs.” While his adoptive mother, played by Asian actress Alannah Ong, calls him out on his accent early on in the film, he continues to use it. It’s definitely not material that would fly in 2022 and it shouldn’t have been okay in 2004. 

Outside of this flaw and some pretty horrendous CGI, it’s a fun, chaotic romp with a heartwarming story at its center and a more mature, final look at the Olsen twins’ acting career that deserves far more than an 11 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. They both have love interests, played by “Gilmore Girls” teen heartthrob Jared Padalecki and current “Nancy Drew” star Riley Smith, and there are numerous scenes in which they are shown in just their towels or robes and some implied nudity as well. It’s a bit risqué when you consider the fact that they were just 17, but had continued acting. This would have definitely marked their change from being seen as just teenage girls with a target audience of little girls and pre-teens to young adults. 

I’ll always wonder what their filmography would have looked like if Mary-Kate and Ashley had kept acting. While this was Ashley’s final role, Mary-Kate went on to feature in three not-so-great films, though I wouldn’t put the blame on her, before retiring in 2011. Luckily, even though it’s been 18 years since “New York Minute” premiered, they starred in 36 films together and multiple television shows in their 17-year career that can provide us with plenty of nostalgic entertainment.