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SPUN(director: Jonas Akerlund; screenwriters: Will De Los Santos and Creighton Vero; cinematographer: Eric Broms; music: Billy Corgan; cast: Jason Schwartzman (Ross), John Leguizamo (Spider Mike), Mena Suvari (Cookie), Patrick Fugit (Frisbee), Peter Stormare (Cop No. 1), Alexis Arquette (Cop No. 2), Brittany Murphy (Nikki), Mickey Rourke (the Cook), Chloe Hunter (April), Eric Roberts (The Man), Deborah Harry (Lesbian Neighbor), Ron Jeremy (Cameo as bartender, Porn Star), Charlotte Ayan (Amy); Runtime: 100; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Chris Hanley, Fernando Sulichin, Timothy Wayne Peternel, Danny Vinik; Newmarket Films/Columbia Tristar; 2002)
“A weird speed freak trip comedy that has all the trippers spinning out-of-control.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A weird speed freak trip comedy that has all the trippers spinning out-of-control. The speed freaks are filled with anxiety, rage, sexual frustration, the jitters and sawdust for brains. They’re all clueless, unlikable, self-absorbed, and badly addicted to speed. There’s an odd charisma they give off, as they’re so guilesss, gross, stupid and uncommunicative that just by being losers with nothing worthwhile to say they instantly achieve cartoon status and this viewer’s curious stares. Swedish Director Jonas Akerlund (music videos for Moby and Madonna) in his debut feature chooses to make his protagonist a druggie named Ross (Jason Schwartzman, star of Rushmore). He’s a college drop-out who looks normal, but turns out to be an irresponsible twit and the one I liked the least (which is saying a mouthful in this pic).

Ross’s circus-like adventure with this lowlife group lasts for 3 or 4 days and is set in a small town in the North Los Angeles Valley. The kid is so spun around he doesn’t even have a clue as to how far down he has fallen. Trying to score speed, he visits his spaced-out drug dealer Spider Mike (Leguizamo) who lives in a dumpy bungalow, with graffiti on the inside walls. Also present are Spider’s base red-eyed and stain-toothed girlfriend Cookie, a pimply faced teenager named Frisbee who is glued to watching cartoons on the tube and lives at home with his 400-hundred pound druggie mom, and a giggly former stripper from Las Vegas, Nikki, who can’t control her constant perky chatter. She’s been living for a few weeks with the Cook in his seedy motel room, where he shuts all the windows and in a dangerous stuffy atmosphere cooks up the crystal meth to supply his dealer. During the visit, Spider is having a paranoid attack imagining cops outside and is raving in particular against Cookie and Frisbee for no discernible reason. When Spider thinks he lost his stash, he allows Nikki to take Ross to the master chef.

Ross has a few snorts and takes his stripper girlfriend number 2, April, back to his room where he’s in the middle of a sex bondage romance when the cowboy dressed Cook calls and orders him to take Nikki to the dog clinic because her little mutt turned green. Rushing out to run the errand, he leaves the naked April chained to the bed and then gags and blindfolds her. Against her protests, he says he’ll be right back. He’ll return some hours later, but only to receive another call from the Cook and with the lure of free drugs he willingly leaps at the opportunity. He still leaves April bound and gagged, as he greedily doesn’t want to lose the pleasure of her company when he returns. Ross gets his comeuppance as he’s dumped by girlfriend number 1, Amy. She left for the big city and a job in the corporate world, and only calls because he still owes her $450. Ross still loves her and keeps calling and leaving phone messages that go unanswered, he’s so out of it that he doesn’t even realize it’s over between them.

The film’s wild ride dumps on these loser dopers as mindless parasites. Each time they take a snort, there’s a loud burst of music and the camera goes into a spin. It’s an anti-drug film that tries to get across its message by its zany humor, though it can’t resist near the end unloading some untimely moralizing. It’s closest in attitude to both Harmony Korine’s “Gummo and Darren Aronofsky’s ”Requiem for a Dream.”

The druggies throughout are occupied watching porn, professional wrestling, cartoons, or the reality based cop TV show Bust. The gross-out highlight is not only watching Cookie take a dump, but watching it come out and fall into the toilet. Debbie Harry appears as a butch lesbian phone sex operator, who has a morbidly funny scene trying to get the almost impotent Spider to relieve himself while he has a sock on his private part. Eric Roberts plays a flamboyant gay drug distributor, who plays house with two male bodybuilder boy toys in the big city. There’s even a cameo by porn actor Ron Jeremy as a bartender.

Spun is only for those who come to laugh at the speed freaks, and for those Mickey Rourke fans. The Man is still funnier and weirder than any other cast member, in a madcap performance that would have endeared him to Andy Warhol.

REVIEWED ON 7/31/2003 GRADE: B –

Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”