Olsen Sisters Hit Theaters; Van Helsing Hunts for a Plot

Now in theaters: New York Minute, Mean Girls and Van Helsing.

New York Minute

In New York Minute, Ashley Olsen is a neat freak and sister Mary-Kate is her exact opposite. Ashley's bent on winning a scholarship to Oxford. Mary-Kate wants just as badly to be a rock star. Fate throws them together on the Long Island Rail Road on their way to New York City.

Slickly produced, New York Minute isn't a bad film. The much-anticipated girl-meets-boy scenes are appropriate, even wholesome. But the other tweener features out this spring — 13 Going on 30, Ella Enchanted and Mean Girls — are much better films, funnier, savvier and a whole lot easier for grown-ups to sit through.

New York Minute runs an hour and a half. But if you're over 14, it will seem like 2½. Grade: C

Mean Girls

Mean Girls is a much better bet for tweeners and especially their parents. Like School of Rock, even if you don't like this type of movie, you're going to find this movie enjoyable.

As a home-schooled kid who moves to Chicago from Africa, Lindsay Lohan is clueless when it comes to the unforgiving social order of a public high school cafeteria. What's more, this funny coming-of-age film is in a league with Clueless.

Saturday Night Live has created another big-screen star: Tina Fey wrote the script and plays the teacher. She could teach the folks who wrote New York Minute a thing or two, in a New York minute. Grade: B+

Van Helsing

With a $150 million budget, video game tie-ins, and a TV series already in the works, there's an awful lot at stake in Van Helsing, and judging from the bursts of unintended laughter at the screening I attended (some of which, I must confess, came from me), this is a horror of a film of epic proportions.

In the opening scene, a prologue in black and white, a mob storms Dr. Frankenstein's castle on a dark night as Igor shouts, "It's alive!"

I start to think I'm watching Young Frankenstein, and I don't expect the monster to look like Boris Karloff. I expect him to look like Peter Boyle. I keep hearing someone sing, "Pardon me boys, is this the Transylvania Station?" Nothing happens in the rest of the film to turn me around.

True story: A hundred years ago, the greatest magician in London produced a play with amazing effects. There was a flood, an earthquake, and people disappeared before your eyes. It closed in a month.

Just down the block, at the same time, another play opened with terrible effects. The boat was phony, the waves were painted. People flew, but you could see the wires. The play was called Peter Pan. So it's not the effects, it's the story. It's going to be a long summer. Grade: C