Mini's First Time (2006) / Comedy-Thriller

MPAA Rated: R for strong sexual content, language, drug use, and a scene of violence
Running time: 87 min.

Cast: Nikki Reed, Alec Baldwin, Carrie-Anne Moss, Jeff Goldblum, Luke Wilson, Svetlana Metkina, Rick Fox (cameo), Nick Guthe (cameo), Andre Ware (cameo)
Director: Nick Guthe
Screenplay: Nick Guthe
Review published August 7, 2006

Nikki Reed (Lords of Dogtown, Thirteen) stars as the titular Mini, a troubled teen having difficulty coping with the day-to-day existence of living with her mother Diane (Carrie-Anne Moss, Suspect Zero), a bitchy, philandering, gold digging alcoholic.  Mini is tired of being the victim and decides to start learning to deal with her mother by being more like her, which she starts doing by becoming a teen prostitute.  Her first client is none other than Martin (Alec Baldwin, Fun with Dick and Jane), her latest stepfather, although, with the lights so dim, he doesn't know it until the deed is done.  Mini does reveal their indiscretion once it's all over, leaving Martin with a choice to continue being her wannabe father, or to accept her as his new lover, since Diane isn't giving him any affection these days.  He chooses the latter.

Just having a fling with Martin just isn't enough for Mini; she now wants the whole enchilada.  With Marin's help, she plans on getting her dear old mother out of the way by slipping enough drugs in her margaritas to make her go crazy in public -- enough to hopefully get her sent away to a mental institution for good.  The plan seems to be going well, until one night they decide that they might actually be able to pull off getting Diane out of the picture permanently by faking a suicide. 

This film isn't just Mini's first time in a relationship, but it also marks the first time in filmmaking for director Nick Guthe, who also provides the snappy screenplay.  If nothing else, his debut film does show he has the skills to warrant wanting to see more of his work in the future.  He didn't exactly choose an easy project for a first film, as black comedy is a very difficult style of film to pull off, and with a cast of very seasoned actors to have to tell precisely what to do, Guthe very well could have lost control and focus on the project and turned in a disaster.

Judging by the finished product, these actors must have firmly believed in Guthe and his sklls, as every one of them provides some choice performances, with especially strong turns by a simmering Alec Baldwin, a deliciously deranged Carrie-Anne Moss, and an enjoyably wicked manipulator role for not-so-newcomer Nikki Reed.  Even vets Jeff Goldblum (The Life Aquatic) and Luke Wilson (Legally Blonde 2)  show charisma that they haven't always been allowed in films in some time in their respective roles as the horny next door neighbor and tenacious police investigator.  While Guthe has the talent to deliver the goods, its really the actors that elevate this ambitious story into something worthwhile.  It probably helped that Guthe studied acting when he arrived in Hollywood instead of going to right to film school.

Like most black comedies, Mini's First Time isn't for everyone.  It has an amoral vixen at the heart of its story, and the rest of the characters are perhaps even more unlikable.  Despite some very fine performances, the characters aren't supposed to be particularly deep, serving their function without a sense of real history or future, existing for the here and now as the story necessitates. 

Although it might be seen as a worst-case scenario, underneath the comedic surface of the material are serious themes about the dangers of bad parenting, particularly in how children learn to be just as corrupt as their parents in the absence of strong role models and people to help mold them into upright individuals.  Everyone wants to use Mini for their own devices, which she quickly seizes upon to her advantage, willing to sacrifice a little of herself in order to achieve an ultimate goal.  While the premise might seem to be over the top, it isn't too farfetched when one thinks of sensational real-life news items like the Amy Fisher or Tonya Harding cases.

If you enjoy irreverent, sexy, and perverse black comedies like Wild Things and Cruel Intentions, Mini's First Time should prove worth a look, especially if you're a fan of any of the film's talented stars.

Qwipster's rating:

2006 Vince Leo