Uptown Girls
1 out of 5 stars
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A painfully botched comedy that lays waste to a talented cast, these filmmakers try everything to make the film both zanier and sweeter ... and only end up looking desperate. Molly (Murphy) is the 22-year-old daughter of a dead rock star living on her own in Manhattan without a care in the world until her financial manager runs off with her fortune. Suddenly she needs a job and the help of her friends (Faison and Shelton). Soon she's the nanny for Ray (Fanning), a seriously smart spoiled brat whose mother (Locklear) is a workaholic record company exec. While struggling with Ray and trying to come to grips with the idea of growing up, Molly also falls for a hot young musician (Spencer) who thinks she might be bad for him.

Frankly, Molly is bad for everyone. Her careless irresponsibility is not only far-fetched and ludicrous, but it also makes her deeply unsympathetic, no matter how often the filmmakers play the orphan card. And they play it a lot. Murphy is not a bad actress, but Yakin seems to think she's the next Lucille Ball, traipsing her from one humiliation to the next pratfall without even a shred of logic (a collapsible closet in a multi-million dollar penthouse? a TV that works even though her electricity has been cut off?) It's just far too silly and corny to work on any level, and leaves us staring with disbelief at the screen. Fanning is excellent as usual, and she gets the film's only funny lines, but her character is never properly explored. While Molly must grow up, Ray is never allowed to be a little girl at all (being silly once is not childhood!). Then once the stupid physical humour has us completely annoyed the schmaltz kicks in with several Important Life Lessons slathered with weepy sentimentality. Murphy and Fanning, plus solid supporting actors like Faison, Locklear and Spencer, help make some scenes work, but the overall film is such a shocking misfire that you end up feeling sorry for them all.

cert PG themes, innuendo 14.Aug.03

dir Boaz Yakin
scr Julia Dahl, Mo Ogrodnik, Lisa Davidowitz
with Brittany Murphy, Dakota Fanning, Jesse Spencer, Donald Faison, Heather Locklear, Marley Shelton, Pell James, Austin Pendleton, Marceline Hugot, Fisher Stevens, Mark McGrath, Dave Navarro
release US 15.Aug.03; UK 5.Mar.04
03/US 1h37

Going underground: Murphy and Fanning sulk.

murphy fanning spencer
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2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall