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Malcolm In The Middle Star Erik Per Sullivan's Final Movie Twelve Explained

Erik Per Sullivan had all the makings of a child star-turned-successful actor. Between 2000 and 2006, Sullivan played Dewey on "Malcolm in the Middle," the (for a time) youngest and most level-headed member of the family. He also explored the beginning of a film career, acting in films like "The Cider House Rules," "Joe Dirt," "Christmas with the Kranks," and "Finding Nemo."

In 2010, Sullivan appeared in what would turn out to be his final acting role — Joel Schumacher's "Twelve" — after which he disappeared from the limelight, not even emerging for "Malcolm in the Middle" reunions.

"Twelve" was a sour note for Sullivan to end on — or, given its universal panning, perhaps the reason he decided to call it quits. Based on Nick McDonell's 2002 novel of the same name, "Twelve" follows a teenager named White Mike (Chace Crawford) who deals drugs to Manhattan's most elite prep schoolers, courtesy of his supplier, Lionel (Curtis Jackson). What follows is a melodramatic document of the Upper East Side that operates in the vein of a Bret Easton Ellis joint, desperately straining to be edgy.

The film is a showcase of aughts on-the-rise talent, including Emma Roberts, Rory Culkin, Billy Magnussen, and a young Jeremy Allen White. Sullivan has a minor role as Timmy, a weed-seeking teen. Unfortunately, the film doesn't do the actors any favors. As Foster Kamer put it for Gawker, "'Twelve' is the worst movie at Sundance because it represents in every way possible the consistent squandering of opportunities for up-and-coming authors, actors, screenwriters, and directors who aren't already established."

Twelve was an unfortunate end to Sullivan's career

"Twelve" maintains a dismal 3% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and skimming the reviews might provide a certain amount of schadenfreude to those who are still mad at Joel Schumacher for his universally maligned "Batman & Robin." Writing for CinemaBlend, Perri Nemiroff commented, "The film version of 'Twelve' is quite the opposite of the book, a dull and thoughtless ride with a sad excuse for a climax." Slant Magazine's Andrew Schenker was just as scathing, describing the dour, grieving protagonist as "a monstrosity of reductive psychology" whose character just isn't interesting enough to draw attention from viewers.

The film's unfortunate response is in part due to the time in which it was released. Pop culture was already saturated with tales of wealthy Upper East Siders, including "Gossip Girl" and "NYC Prep." Casting "Gossip Girl" star Chace Crawford as the "Twelve" lead only drew derisive comparisons. The Village Voice even titled its takedown, "Twelve: A Very Special Episode of Gossip Girl."

If nothing else, "Twelve" operates as a time capsule of aughts adolescence best enjoyed via hate-watch, or as a chance to catch Jeremy Allen White and his peers years before their Hollywood takeover. There's also the brief thrill of seeing "Malcolm in the Middle" star Erik Per Sullivan one last time or hearing Kiefer Sutherland's attempt at a gravely noir narrator. Intrepid viewers can stream "Twelve" for free on Peacock, Tubi, The Roku Channel, and Amazon Prime.