Retro Review: Uptown Girls

Brittany Murphy has always been an enigma to me. Here you have a young funny actress who has a very quirky and off-setting screen charisma.

She is difficult to cast unless you put her in a role that pushes her to the extremes. Casting agents are often confused when casting Murphy.

So instead of finding a place for her, why not make a film that is her. “Uptown Girls” is that vehicle. This is all Brittany Murphy is.

Murphy plays rich socialite Molly Gunn, who lives off a trust fund set-up by her deceased rock-n-roll parents. Molly lives within a fairy-tale world which a lot of her friends don’t understand. When Molly’s trust fund magically disappears and she is kicked out of her apartment, Molly is forced to find a job to survive. Being who Molly is that is sooner said than done.

Molly tries living with overly-secure best friend Ingrid (“ex-It Girl” Marley Shelton) and friend who happens to be a player, Huey (“Clueless” co-star Donald Adeosun Faison) but eventually wears out her welcome.

Huey eventually sets Molly up with a nanny job. Molly’s ward is 8-year-old Ray Schleine, who is extremely uptight sees the world more through a 40-year olds eyes than the innocence of a child. Can these two displaced girls stand each other? How will their relationship affect themselves and the people around them?

“Uptown Girls” is basically an exploration of Brittany Murphy through the lens of a saccharine induced family comedy. There is plenty of ways we can compare Molly Gunn to her alter ego Brittany Murphy. The reason Murphy is so good in this role is that she seems to be playing herself.

She is either an amazing actress or just being herself. Murphy is the centre of this piece and probably the only thing going for it.

Young upstart Dakota Fanning is strong but very rigid as Ray. I like how much substance this little actress has but here it seems muffled into the straight role to Murphy’s goofiness. Fanning is a wonderful little actress but wasted here.

It was sad to see Marley Shelton reduced to the “Martha-wanna-be” best friend in this film. Two years ago, Hollywood wanted her to be the next Sarah Michelle Gellar but with being cast in some of the worst films in the past three years, including “Bubble Boy” and “Valentine”, Shelton has fallen. She was amazing in “On the Borderline”, “Lured Innocence” and “Just a Kiss”. It is a shame.

The other co-stars play the same old roles they have played hundreds of times. Donald Faison continues his streak of clichéd wild man buddy roles and Heather Locklear pulls on her “Melrose Place” face as the “icy cold” mother of Dakota.

I can’t say there was much about this film I liked. The script is dull and the characters even more so. There are a few laughs but for the most part I just wanted to yawn.

All I can say is that for fans of Brittany Murphy this is a must see. This film is tailor-made for her but not much else.

1 out of 5

So Says the Soothsayer.

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