Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Jason Schwartzman, John Leguizamo, Mena Suvari, Patrick Fugit, Peter Stormare, Brittany Murphy, Mickey Rourke
Director: Jonas Akerlund
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround, French Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Columbia Tri Star
Features: See Review
Length: 101 Minutes
Release Date: July 22, 2003

Film **

Despite having a top flight cast of unlimited range, Spun is one of those films where it can only be enjoyed if youíre in a certain state. The film is very much about people under the influence of heroin, and the storytelling process is essentially a frenetically hazy one that, I suppose, is intended to convey the feeling of being under the influence of such. Aside from that, and not being a big fan of drugs myself, the movie made me feel a little uneasy, as I saw before me talented people going to endless extremes to make themselves look as disgusting as humanly possible. But I guess if youíre a junkie, thereís not much you can do about it.

The film can best be described as an uninspired hybrid of Trainspotting and The Salton Sea, both of which were far more entertaining films about characters with similar predicaments, and both were far more involving, as well. The story centers on Ross (Jason Schwartzman), a clueless loser whoís looking to score a job so that he can score some quick cash for quick drugs. He soon thereafter spotted by a local drug kingpin known as Cook (Mickey Rourke). Ross is hired to be the Cookís personal chauffer, and will in turn provide the kid with drugs instead of cash. Ross is an extremely forgetful one, as he consistently forgets that he has left his girlfriend handcuffed to a bed in his apartment.

Rossís primary job is to transport the drugs supplied to him by Cook to the house of Spider Mike (John Leguizamo), who distributes it. Spider Mikeís house is also frequented by junkies such as Cookie (Mena Suvari) and Frisbee (Patrick Fugit), both of whom are fried out of their minds thanks to their love and affection for meth. Spiderís main problem is that he can never seem to sell the supplies because he ends up using them on himself.

Not too long after beginning this new job, Ross becomes somewhat involved with Nikki (Brittany Murphy), Cookís girlfriend. When she becomes completely fed up with her boyfriend paying absolutely no attention to her, she turns to Ross to help her get out of town so that she can start her life over. At the same time, a couple of bumbling cops (Peter Stormare, Alexis Arquette), who happen to be taping a reality cops show make a bust of just about everyone connected to this drug ring, making matters hectic for all concerned.

The visual style of Spun does make something of an impression, but at the same time, itís been seen before. It seems as if the makers of this film studied every frame of the far superior Requiem For a Dream and applied it to increase the frenetic feeling. Certain visual tricks are added to the sequences of characters getting high, and it just tends to be a little too much after a while.

Spun is momentarily engaging but it simply manages to mark on familiar territory in scene after scene. Despite a clever scene or two, you really arenít going to get much from this film that you havenít gotten before.

Video ***

Columbia Tri Starís anamorphic offering is quite a decent one, given the way the film was shot. A lot of close up shots are loaded with grain, but with purpose, while the rest of the film seems to verge on a line between clear and the not so clear. Itís a unique sort of visual style for a DVD release to handle, but it is pulled off very well with this release.

Audio ***

Sound is a key factor in this film, and CTSí 5.1 mix embraces this notion with a dead on sound quality. Dialogue and occasional music are heard decently, but itís the outrageous drug using scenes that give this presentation a memorable boost. It, like the film itself, may induce a similar feeling that substances produce, but then again, I wouldnít know a thing about that.

Features **

Included are some deleted scenes, a music video, trailers and TV spots.


Bottom line, if youíve seen Requiem, Trainspotting, and The Salton Sea, then Spun will offer absolutely no new ground except maybe that of extreme dizziness. A nice effort but simultaneously shallow.