Rated R for strong drug content, alcohol abuse, language, sexual material, brief nudity and some violence - all involving teens, 93 minutes
Heavy-handed, overly familiar "Twelve" is a drag
Having grown up in church, there's the familiar joke that goes "I had a drug problem when I was young...I was drug to church every Sunday by my parents." Unless you're drug to the film "Twelve," I wouldn't bother seeing it. Based on a controversial novel about rich, self-indulgent Manhattan teens, "Twelve" is uninvolving, heavy-handed and tries too hard to channel every Bret Easton Ellis story.
Chace Crawford is the story's central protagonist named White Mike, a rich teen whose Mom dies of cancer and whose Dad all but disappears in his work, and he ends up dropping out of school and dealing drugs to his former classmates. He lives with his cousin Charlie (Jeremy Allen White) and Hunter (Philip Ettinger), both of whom are involved in drugs. White Mike's life begins to unravel when Charlie is murdered by Lionel (50 Cent), one of White Mike drug dealer acquaintances. Some of the wealthy, spoiled teens that White Mike deals to are having a big party that will permanently alter everyone's lives, including Molly (Emma Roberts), a clean, pure girl who's in love with White Mike but doesn't know his real life.
"Twelve" is a vacuous, uninteresting mess of a movie directed with a heavy hand by noted director Joel Schumacher ("Batman and Robin") that wastes a decent cast, among other things. "Twelve," based on Nick McDonnell's 2002 controversial, powerful novel, is frought with big problems. For one, it relies on "Gossip Girl's" Crawford, hardly an actor of depth, to carry the film. Woefully miscast and out of his league, the most memorable thing about the part is that his heavily styled hair looks good (and none too ironic that Crawford plays a drug dealer here and who in real life was just arrested for possession of marijuana). Second, there's little emotional connection with the characters, most of whom are so shallow and unsympathetic that by the time the film reaches its violent conclusion, you may not care about their fates.
Above all, the worst aspect about "Twelve" is the heavy, ostentatious and excessive use of voice-over narration throughout the film provided by Keifer Sutherland. Narration is something that has to be used carefully in film, but Schumacher annoyingly uses it everytime a new character appears or a major plot development occurs. Most audiences should be able to determine what's happening without being told; it doesn't help that Sutherland's narration is overbearing at best.
"Twelve" is seemingly a depressing rip-off of anything Bret Easton Ellis has ever done, or worse, a seedy remake of Schumacher's own "St. Elmo's Fire." There are a few good moments, but otherwise this is a forgettable, unfortunate big-screen interpretation that lacks power and instensity. I would remake with Lee Daniels directing, Ryan Gosling as White Mike and without a single bit of narration; unlike this version of "Twelve," it would be one to watch.