Sony // 2002 // 101 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // July 18th, 2003
It's a trip.
Spun puts a spin on the world of druggies, drug makers, and drug dealers. In the span of just a few days we'll meet a wide variety of folks whom you wouldn't want to meet in a well lit room, much less a dark ally. The head honcho is The Cook (Mickey Rourke, Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man), a cowboy clad crystal meth maker who keeps company with the nubile and spunky Nikki (Brittany Murphy, 8 Mile). Spider Mike (John Leguizamo, Spawn) is the guy who buys and resells the drugs, an explosive personality who holes up inside a crumbling suburban shack. Inside Spider Mike's pad we meet his girlfriend/sex partner Cookie (a nasty looking Mena Suvari, American Pie) and their pimply "friend" Frisbee (Patrick Fugit, Almost Famous). We see all of these people through the eyes of Ross (Jason Schwartzman, Rushmore), a semi-normal guy who's into snorting crystal meth and accidentally leaving his stripper girlfriend tied to his bed. During an epic drug binge, viewers will discover what makes these people tick (meth! coke! PCP!), what they do in their off time (meth! coke! PCP!), and what it's like to be highly Spun.
For those obsessed with Timothy Leary or Hunter S. Thompson, you'll love Spun. The film is a whacked out, speed induced look at what happens when you binge on drugs around a group of very strange characters. There isn't much of a plot to Spun -- in a way it's more of a character study, albeit a very, very odd character study. Each of these spacey, highly fixated folks has their own distinctive personalities. For those wondering what's become of Mickey Rourke, here's your chance to see him in all his meltdown glory (indeed, Rourke looks as if he's aged decades by leaps and bounds). All sleaze and sexual grumble, the man looks like a walking, talking STD. In a way, his Cook character is the most interesting in the film -- every time he's on screen you can't help but be mesmerized by his hulking build (and detachable teeth). Jason Schwartzman, an actor who done some good work (Rushmore) and some bad (Slackers), shines as Ross, an average guy who gotten caught up in the underbelly of drugs. Giving good support is the frantic John Leguizamo -- an actor who always puts 110% into every role -- and Mena Suvari as his icky girlfriend, all rotted teeth and sunken eyes. Directed by Jonas Åkerland (who previously worked on music videos for Moby and Madonna), Spun has a dream/nightmare like quality to it that will more often than not leave the viewer gasping for air. Flipping from one situation to another, Spun never slows down, instead attempting to pack as much drugged out behavior into its short 100-minute run time. Though the film centers around characters high on drugs or selling them, these are still (somewhat) likable folks -- even Rourke's Cook comes across as just a good ole boy who's a little too rough around the edges. Of course, this doesn't mean I want to actually hang out with this crowd; they're just enticingly funny to watch (and wait until you get a load of Eric Roberts in a very humorous, effeminate cameo). While Spun certainly isn't for everyone, there are enough moments of high hilarity and weirdness to make it worth the viewing. But please, for the love of all that's holy, don't try any of this at home!
FYI: There's also an "unrated cut" of the film available on DVD. I'm not sure what kind of footage has been added, though I have a few ideas (more meth! more coke! more PCP!).
Spun is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 with an anamorphic enhancement for 16x9 TV sets. Generally speaking, this transfer is just so-so -- there's a lot of grain to be found here, and the colors, black levels, and flesh tones often look muted and dull (though this may be due more in part to the filmmakers' choices than a transfer problem). Maybe because of all the drug influences this transfer was supposed to look a bit off key. Either way, there isn't much to write home about. Edge enhancement and haloing were both kept to the bare minimum. The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround in English and French, as well as Dolby 2.0 Surround in English. The 5.1 mix is good with directional effects and surround sounds kicking in most heavily during ex-Smashing Pumpkin's front man Billy Corgan's music score and when anyone drops a hit of meth (the screen shakes, sounds screech, and general hell breaks loose). Also included on this disc are English, Spanish, and French subtitles.
Spun is fairly low on extra features, though fans will delight in seeing four deleted scenes, each presented in non-anamorphic widescreen. Though none of these scenes would have added much to the film (aside of one featuring Leguizamo being cruel to an overweight kid), they're a nice bonus nonetheless. Otherwise, the only supplements available on this disc are some TV spots, a trailer for Spun, a music video, plus bonus trailers for other Columbia TriStar titles.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 101 Minutes
Release Year: 2002
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Deleted Scenes
* Music Video
* Theatrical Trailers