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Uptown Girls (PG-13)
MGM Studios
Official Site
Director: Boaz Yakin
Producers: Allison Jacobs, John Penotti, Fisher Stevens
Written by: Julia Dahl, Lisa Davidowitz, Mo Ogrodnik, Allison Jacobs
Cast: Brittany Murphy, Dakota Fanning, Heather Locklear, Donald Faison, Marley Shelton

Rating: out of 5

Uptown Girls, a movie about a polar opposite nanny and child duo from the upper east side of New York City, has its ups and downs. And like most girlie, big studio movies, the film eventually finds its way to a predictable, saccharine-sweet ending.

Brittany Murphy plays Molly Gunn, the daughter of a dead rock star, who lives like a princess and acts like one too. She whims her way through life by way of inheritance and always fancies what she can’t have—which is pretty much limited to a certain up and coming British musician who doesn’t have time for silly romance.

But after all of Molly’s money is stolen, she must learn to earn her keep in the city that never sleeps. Paying bills being a foreign concept, she manages to land a job as a nanny after some jostling trials and tribulations in other career venues.

Enter Ray (Fanning), the precocious, indignant eight-year-old in the movie, who acts like an adult and lives like one too. She’s cold, wicked, and forgotten by her parents. All those characteristics add up to her being the proverbial child ignored.

Molly’s exuberance and extravagance is too much for the calm and collected Ray at first, but the child’s hard exterior is slowly whittled away by humor, until the two lonely girls become confidantes, then friends.

On screen, Murphy and Fanning have an ill-balanced chemistry. Fanning comes out on top of the charisma heap, her one-liners and idiosyncratic mannerisms being indisputably the major laughs and enjoyment of the film. Murphy is awkward at times as the comedic lead, and fumbles slightly on timing. However, for the major dramatic climaxes of the film she throws her acting chops into full force. Drama is definitely Murphy’s forte.

Dakota Fanning reminds me of the young girl in Beaches who played Nina and won our hearts with her defiant nature toward Bette Midler’s Cici Bloom. Fanning has that same presence on the big screen that seems to be innate, a child born to be a memorable character. Her furrowed brows and her smile are impossible to ignore. Whatever is demanded at any given moment, Ms. Fanning gives her all.

I can’t tell you what happened to that girl in Beaches, but I hope Dakota Fanning will be around in the years to come. Regardless of whether the mediocre Uptown Girls is a chick flick hit, Fanning is definitely worth keeping your eyes on.

—Sandra M. Ogle


hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

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