Twelve is Joel Schumacher‘s adaptation of Nick McDonell‘s novel [my review here], starring Chace Crawford, Rory Culkin, Emma Roberts, Emily Meade, Philip Ettinger, Curtis Jackson (aka 50 Cent), Ellen Barkin and Kiefer Sutherland.
Ever since his mother’s death, White Mike (Chace Crawford) and his father have had troubles. Now Mike is getting by by selling drugs, though he does stay away from the novelty drug Twelve. He rather leaves that to Lionel (Curtis Jackson) who got Mike’s Cousin Charlie (Jeremy Allen White) hooked on it.
At the same time, popular girl Sara (Esti Ginzburg) plans a birthday party at Chris’ (Rory Culkin) place, even though his slightly psycho brother Claude (Billy Magnussen) is home for an impromptu visit.
Twelve is the rare breed of film where Joel Schumacher is not the worst thing about it. In fact, the script [by Jordan Melamed] is worse than his direction – and that is a feat he deserves at least some recognition for. But not by having to watch the movie.
[SPOILERS for book and film]
The film had potential. The book’s good. The cast is not bad, though Chace Crawford has more statue than acting potential and Billy Magnussen was too over the top. Emma Roberts is acutally a good actress and Emily Meade not only had a great role, she played it well, too. Philip Ettinger’s role (Hunter) was not as flashy as hers, but he gave a powerful performance. Rory Culkin wasn’t bad either and Curtis Jackson’s appearance was short enough to not matter that much [though he did get naked].
Unfortunately, Jordan Melamed thought that the best way to go about a book adaptation would be to make an audiobook with some visuals – so you got Kiefer Sutherland basically narrating all the time. And yeah, his voice is really nice, but his reading is not that great and even if it was, 90 minutes voice over are about 89 minutes too many.
Also, it was apparently absolutely necessary to remove all moral ambiguity. So, White Mike becomes the drug dealer who only deals with the “good stuff” and not the evil Twelve; and he only does so because he doesn’t have any money [in the book, his family’s rich – no hospital bills paying problem whatsoever]. Molly (Emma Roberts) becomes the poor girl, too, because being rich and nice is apparently impossible. Claude’s psycho-ness is apparent from minute one, where the book is way more subtle about it [unless you’ve heard of Chekhov’s gun, then it’s still very apparent].
And the ending… for crying out loud, one would have thought that you could get some dramatic potential into this ending. I mean, Claude runs amok! But somehow, they managed to make the ending completely meh. They have Mike – who has just been shot in the stomach, twice – careening down the stairs into Molly to save her life [only that she can tell him that he’s an idiot for lying to her – the best scene of the film]. They give Sara completely ridiculous – and sanctimonious – last thoughts, narrated by Kiefer Sutherland of course. And they completely forget Hunter, who’s probably still rotting in jail.
Summarising: Read the book, skip the film, then skip the film some more.
On a sidenote: Why the hell was it necessary to have Kiefer Sutherland point out, not only once, but twice that Molly reminded Mike of his mother? I’m 99% certain that it wasn’t in the book, it is not necessary to explain Mike’s attraction to Molly and it adds a bitter taste of Oedipus to the whole thing that makes it even more ridiculous.