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Uptown Girls /

Rated: PG-13

Starring: Brittany Murphy, Dakota Fanning, Heather Locklear, Jesse Spencer, Donald Faison
Directed by: Boaz Yakin
Produced by: Allison Jacobs, John Penotti, Fisher Stevens
Written by:
Julia Dahl, Mo Ogrodnik, and Lisa Davidowitz
Distributor: MGM


     I'm amazingly surprised that Uptown Girls has a significant amount of depth. Make no mistake, it is what it is—a movie for teenage girls—made for the purpose of being sweet and adorable. Quite astoundingly, though, it contains a few morals, a fairly realistic story, and two fabulous performances by the leads. Sadly, these three accomplished features cannot save it from being boring and pretentious, some of the time. In fact, the only scenes that I really like are those shared by Brittany Murphy and Dakota Fanning. Uptown Girls will make a good rental when it’s on DVD, but when you’re paying a full $8.50 for admission, you’ll walk out of the theatre feeling disappointed.

     Molly Gunn (Murphy) is a party-girl, who has just turned twenty-two. She is living off a giant inheritance, which she received when her parents died in a plane crash, when she was eight years old. Since then, Molly has taken care of herself. Save for the facts that she’s never ever had to work for her money and her apartment’s always a pigsty, Molly is doing an okay job.

     At her big birthday bash, she falls for British rock-star-in-the-making Neal Fox (Jesse Spencer), when she sees him playing on stage. When Molly first introduces herself to him, he’s not all that interested in her. But, one thing leads to another, and she is finally able to lure him back to her apartment. She opens the front door to the place, and flips the light-switch upwards. The light doesn’t come on; her electricity has been terminated. This is not a problem for Molly; she always has a backup plan, when a night with a cute guy is on the line. Leaving him locked out and sitting in front of the apartment door, she busily works in the dark, lighting candles and changing clothes. Minutes later, Molly properly invites Neal in. Their time together, overnight, is so grand that when he chooses to leave the next day, she throws a fit and sinks into a deep state of depression. She’s too down to even remember to call someone to find out why her power has been cut-off.

     Over the next few days, Molly’s friend, Ingrid (Marley Shelton), helps her out. Together, they find out that the man who manages Molly’s parents’ trust fund has run off to another continent with all of her money. She will have to get a job and earn a living, for the first time. After being fired from a position at a furniture store, Molly learns that work isn’t all fun and games. In a second attempt to find employment, she joins an agency for nannies. Before long, she’s hired by the family of little Loraine “Ray” Schleine. Ray was at Molly’s birthday party (her mother, Roma (Heather Locklear), a music manager, was invited). They briefly conversed, there.

     Ray is part hypochondriac, part neat-freak, and part time-and-money-manager. She’s like forty year-old woman, packed into the body of a small girl. Molly has the maturity of a five year-old and the sexual drive of a teenager. Wait, who’s in charge here? Ray is outlandishly uptight and Molly is just a little too much fun for her own good. These two are going to have a hard time finding a common ground, but once they do, they’ll be able to bond.

     The highlighting moments of Uptown Girls are those between Ray and Molly. During these, the two actresses, Fanning and Murphy, are really able to show off their acting talents. I especially enjoyed those that best showcase the clashing personalities of the two characters. The script of this film, by Julia Dahl, Mo Ogrodnik, and Lisa Davidowitz, is nightmarish, from both literary and theatrical standpoints, but does allow the two leads to sport their performing skills. Uptown Girls isn’t just girly and preppy; it has a real side to it. It is, indeed, just a passable diversion, but there are some great qualities to it.

     While the sketches with Fanny and Murphy are likeable, and make this the movie that it is, the rest of the movie is pretty awful. Molly’s romance with Neal and her relationships with friends are both hardly ever amusing to watch. The ending payoff, albeit enjoyable, is unfathomably stupid. Any boring moments in a flick like this can really bring it down, on the whole. Uptown Girls has a handful of these boring moments. When it’s on video, it’ll be a worthy rental, but unless you’re only paying matinee price, this one is certainly not worth a theatre-trip. Movie tickets are starting to reach prices, that can only be afforded by those Uptown.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews


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