Mini (Niki Reed, Thirteen) is just like any other teenage girl. She doesn’t have much time for school – stealing drugs from the nurse’s office when she does attend. She likes to go to parties – occasionally jumping out of the cake naked. She’s active in the neighborhood – cozying up to a lecherous television producer (Jeff Goldblum, The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou) She has an after-school job – working nights whoring herself out for an escort service. She has a conflicted relationship with her mother – a promiscuous, drug-addled, alcoholic (Carrie-Anne Moss, The Matrix) And she’s the apple of her Daddy’s eye – in this case her oblivious, wealthy stepfather, Martin (Alec Baldwin, The Cooler).
But what Mini likes bests are her “firsts”. She’s willing to try anything just once – and that might include sleeping with her stepfather, getting rid of her mother and lying to a persistent detective (Luke Wilson, The Royal Tenenbaums). Can Mini outsmart them all, using her wicked wiles to get away with her hilariously scandalous behavior? Well, there’s a first time for everything…
eyelights: the devilish plot. the cast.
eyesores: the implausibility of some of the developments.
“Follow your heart and don’t question it, no matter where it tells you to go…”
‘Mini’s First Time’ is a low-budget independent film about a risk-taking high schooler who, through a twist of fate, finds herself conspiring with her stepfather to have her mother put away. Shrewd and seductive, it doesn’t take long before everything is well in hand. But her plans start to unravel and she will need to be fast on her feet to ensure that this first time isn’t her last.
I didn’t think much of ‘Mini’s First Time’ at first glance. I had seen this title floating around in second-hand stores and pawn shops for years before I ever considered grabbing a copy. I hated the title, the cast had a b-list scent to it and the artwork reminded me of François Ozon’s ‘Swimming Pool’, which had disappointed me slightly. One day, though, I decided to give it a chance.
It’s a good thing that I did, too: ‘Mini’s First Time’ is a pretty solid, darkly comic and sexy suspense picture.
In some ways it’s like a less incisive, teen-oriented version of ‘The Last Seduction‘: our lead is unapologetically selfish and uses her brain (and sometimes her body) to achieve her aims, manipulating men and committing all manners of mischief along the way: she believes that life is only worth living if one partakes in as many “firsts” as possible, incessantly pushing her boundaries.
And others’, along with hers.
The rollercoaster begins with Mini deciding to sign up as a call girl. Shocking enough, given her age, it gets much worse: her first “real” client (her first one disappointingly couldn’t go through with it), turns out to be her stepfather. At first taken aback, she decides that it would be the “ultimate first”. He doesn’t know (as she turns the lights low and blindfolds him), but she reveals herself soon after.
It isn’t long before they conspire to get rid of the mom so that they can be together. At first, the plan is to have her hospitalized, so Mini starts medicating her to slowly break her down. Then she starts messing with her interactions with the outside world, by faking her voice and ordering all sorts of things, changing her appointments, …etc. The mom is building a reputation for being erratic.
Unfortunately for them, things go wrong one night when they get back from dinner and she has attempted suicide…
My issue with ‘Mini’s First Time’ comes after this, where decisions are made that are questionable to say the least, given what’s transpiring (ex: she and the dad going on a holiday together, out in public. Seems to me like the last thing they would want to do). Or just how, when Mini boldly lies to the police and school officials, they easily buy into it. Let’s just say that I wasn’t convinced.
The cast, however, was pretty convincing:
- Nikki Reed is solid in the part of the titular Mini. What I like is that she doesn’t play it up like a your stereotypical byatch. She’s a selfish @$$hole, for sure, but she didn’t overdo it like so many would have. Having said that, she also didn’t smolder or steal the show, something that would have been essential.
- Alec Baldwin is quite okay as the stepdad. I usually hate watching him, but he was perfectly fine in this part: smug, but weak – thinking more of himself than he should.
- Carrie-Ann Moss is always a delight, but her turn as the alcoholic mom who verbally abuses Mini under the pretense of honesty is a scorcher. She is such a jerk, and yet Moss makes us sympathize to some degree: her self-esteem is shot and she is desperate for validation. She is likely only being cruel to be kind – as twisted as that is.
- Luke Wilson is okay as the police detective trying to sort out the mess. He’s the weak point for me, because he doesn’t really seem sharp or persistent enough. He appears impotent to me, lacking edge. But, then again, Wilson usually does. I’m no great fan.
- Jeff Goldblum is Jeff Goldblum – in the guise of a TV producer who is the family’s neighbour. You either like him or you don’t. He didn’t play his part as neurotic as he usually does, which was a welcome change. I like that persona, but it wouldn’t have been appropriate here.
Naturally, the picture hinges on Reed’s appeal. An attractive young woman, she likely stirs the imagination of many. However, being a new actress at the time, she doesn’t exactly set the screen alight and some might be hard-pressed to believe in her powers of seduction. In such cases, it’s quite likely that ‘Mini’s First Time’ will not be successful at entrancing them with its devilish charms.
But it’s well worth a look. ‘Mini’s First Time’ is no award-winner, but it has its moments of cleverness, is peppered with dark humour and is, overall, a fairly entertaining motion picture. It was clearly honed to reel in cynical teenagers as well as adults, giving it a wider margin of appeal. Whether you would want to watch this motion picture with your own family is another matter altogether, however.
Who knows, it might plant an idea or two.
Date of viewing: July 17, 2014