'Just say no kids!' An anti-drugs message that has been amplified ten-fold by such downbeat diamonds as Requiem For A Dream and Trainspotting. Now we have Spun: the directorial feature debut from Jonas Akerlund, whose previous work includes video shoots for Madonna and U2. And the message here? I'm not entirely sure there is one, and there's nothing much to the plot, either.
Ross (Schwartzman), a college drop-out, becomes the driver for a crystal meths chef known as 'The Cook' (Rourke) and his whacked-out stripper girlfriend Nikki (Murphy). After a wild bout of sex with pole dancer April (Hunter), Ross spends the rest of the film chasing his elusive girlfriend Amy (Ayanna), and pandering to the requests of his new employer.
While the three central characters drift in and out of labs, chemists and pet clinics (a green dog suffering the effects of passive smoking!), the rest of the cast get down and dirty in a succession of hugely disreputable set-pieces: we have Frisbee (Fugit), a nauseous spotty teen - mainlining on powder and violent video games - who is persuaded to help TV celeb cops (Arquette and Stormare) ensnare a dealer named Spider Mike and his girlfriend Cookie (Suvari). Meanwhile, one Deborah Harry 'lesbian neighbor' no less, comes over foxy and hard as nails, eavsdropping on an accidental world record attempt for 'Woman Chained To Bed' and knocking seven bells out of a convenience store romeo, echoing an earlier beating administered by 'The Cook'. While it's a delight to see Debs strutting her stuff, and to witness Mickey Rourke recalling his cool, confident glory days, their supporting buddies are present and politically incorrect on two of the best (and funniest) scenes on offer. Be prepared to laugh out loud and louder as Frisbee's heavyweight mom is bust-ed by her small-screen heroes while watching their previous cases on prime-time TV,and you will not believe the sequence involving protected phone sex, featuring Leguizamo, Harry, Fugit, Suvari, a sock, two cops and a bullet in the groin; a gloriously funny scene where things go rapidly down hill in the most entertaining of ways.
While Akerlund does draw attention to his inexperience on several occasions - a case in point being a botched reunion near the end that simply doesn't work (though it's almost redeemed by those 'human statues') - his overall direction and use of an excellent cast has to be admired.
Shot on Super 16mm, Spun employs the rapid-fire editing techniques used on Requiem For A Dream, and its grungy, unglamorous world of strip clubs and drug dens successfully joins forces with cartoon sequences that include animated hard core sex: not exactly Urotsukidoji, but certainly one step beyond the admirable likes of Natural Born Killers.
With a nice cameo from Eric Roberts as 'The Man' (and his boys) and a penultimate scene - shades of P.T. Anderson (no, they don't sing) - that works beautifully, Spun is a flawed but entertaining romp with larger-than-life characters accompanied by an excellent score from Billy 'Smashing Pumpkins' Corgan: do listen out, also, for an unplugged take on the old UFO song, 'Love To Love You'.
Those of you who love a walk on the wild side are advised to catch Spun during its UK cinema run, and the US DVD (now available) features two commentary tracks and 5 deleted scenes. The latter option is highly recommended because Spun is clearly one of those films that requires multiple viewings to fully appreciate.