| April 19, 2003

It doesn’t take long to realize you’re in B-movie hell with this flick, especially once John Leguizamo appears on the screen. The juvenile animation sequences that periodically spring up, along with the jarring, amateurish zoom sequences (ripped off, poorly, from Requiem for a Dream) that accompany drug intake, serve to put the viewer in a cramped basket on a 2-hour journey through hell.
Spun is an excruciatingly bad movie about the circular world of speed addicts in California. Nearly every performer takes a step down here, from Jason Schwarzman (Rushmore) and Brittany Murphy (8 Mile) to Patrick Fugit (Almost Famous) and Mena Suvari (American Beauty). They all portray young adults (with the exception of the teenage Fugit) who spend all their time on speed, wanting to be on speed and making sure that soon they will be on speed.
Most of the action centers around Ross (Schwarzman), the ostensibly, or, amongst this crew, “normal” guy who is not so successfully recovering from a break-up with his girlfriend. He compensates for his heartache and resulting aimlessness by scoring speed at Spider Mike’s (Leguizamo), the neighborhood’s hyperactive speed dealer, chatting with the other tweakers who are strewn around the dealer’s pad, and driving The Cook (Mickey Rourke) around. The Cook is the area’s main supplier of speed, which he makes from a disturbing concoction of caffeine pills. Ross happens to have a car, and he is obliged to ferry The Cook to and from his assorted errands. Oh, Ross also occasionally ties his stripper girlfriend up and leaves her locked in his room for days, buck-naked, spread eagled and with a scratched CD blaring on repeat.
Ackerland gained the misogynist label after his visceral, trip-through-the-rave scene video for Prodigy’s “Smack My Bitch Up,” which MTV played only a handful of times, all after midnight. The director doesn’t seem interested in shedding his controversial label. In fact, with the cavalcade of filth and degeneracy he throws on the screen here, he seems to be inviting controversy; the movie is full of empty shock after empty shock. There is not one likeable or relatable character in this movie and Ackerland seems to revel in it and he doesn’t seem averse to stealing everything and anything else from far superior drug flicks like like Requiem or Trainspotting.
With a soundtrack by Billy Corgan and his new band Zwan, a bleached-out look and an episodic format, Spun looks and feels like a lousy music video. The comic scenes (mostly centering around a Cops rip-off) don’t work and the dramatic scenes are a joke and often offensive. Do we really need to see one character struggling on the john, or another shot in the privates? Somehow, behind all that, two performances stand out: the ravaged Mickey Rourke is nothing short of menacing as the cowboy Cook, and Brittany Murphy remains able to project her inherent bubblegum sweetness even through the filthy haze of Ackerland’s camera.
If you find yourself headed towards Spun, do a 180.

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