ninth symphony films - movie reviews


DIRECTOR  -  boaz yakin

RATED  -  pg-13

GENRE  -  comedy

LENGTH  -  93 minutes

RELEASED  -  15 august 2003


OFFICIAL SITE  -  uptown girls

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $20,000,000
uptown girls - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from uptown girls at

buy the dvd from uptown girls at

a new york socialite takes a job as a nanny of a precocious child after her accountant makes off with her millions.

the title was changed to uptown girls from "molly gunn."


picture from uptown girls

picture from uptown girls

picture from uptown girls


one out of four possible stars

With a few genuinely heart-warming moments stuffed within its hour and a half of screen time, Uptown Girls is highly predictable and relies on the performances of its two lead stars to hold the viewer's interest. And therein is the problem. Although Dakota Fanning and Brittany Murphy have displayed their rather good acting talents on screen in films prior to Girls, there is a symbiosis lacking between the two, an element required for the friendship and chemistry to work. And since the screenplay is not the most original and because the story seems too scattered in places, the film can't just bounce along on the likeability of its two stars.

While the fact that Brittany Murphy's weight seems to match that of her eight-year-old co-star probably won't ruin anybody's viewing of this picture, the hard lines of her body and face seem out of place with the heart-felt speeches her character must give throughout the film. Playing the daughter of a deceased rock star, her look might be considered on-target for that type of society. But for the character's innocently stupid personality, Brittany's cadaver-like weight actually interferes with her ability to make the character believable. As she has continuously shrunk her weight down in each successive picture, Uptown Girls is the first film where her appearance negatively affects her character. She was rather thin in 8 Mile, even slighter in Just Married, but looks like she just walked out of a prison camp in Uptown Girls.

As she Dakota Fanning is but eight years old, she is, thus far, immune to such comments on her weight, though her strange dance recitals throughout the film might lift some eyebrows and cause some irritation. She is quite an articulate young girl, and her large amount of dialogue seems easily memorized and performed, allowing her to embody her character well, making it easy to believe she's a hypochondriac eight-year-old girl who worries about her weight, germs, and her immune system. But though her performance is on target, as is Murphy's, the two are such an odd pairing on screen that viewer sympathy for their story might wane in the second hour of the film.

Given that it's rather easy to ascertain where this movie is headed, the fact that one must rely all the more heavily on the performances places too much pressure on the actors. The dialogue isn't sparkly enough for what one would assume would be included in a "sweet" film like this, but nor is it striking enough to engage an older audience. Certain parts of the film seem hastily edited while other sequences seem like they could have used more strength in the editing room, so concentrating on the characters is not as easy as one would like.

Comments on the supporting cast will include no complaints, though viewers will be wondering why all the characters seem so familiar. It is a failing that encompasses the entire film. Why try something new when you can get used at half the price? Uptown Girls is quite the recycled bit of celluloid, though one wouldn't go so far as to call it trash. In his "usual" role of humor-infused sidekick, Donald Faison (of "Scrubs" fame) provides sufficient comedic output to make his role as Brittany's "friend through thick and thin" an entertaining one. His character could have been made a more substantial one and the film probably would have benefited.

In a role that mirrors her connection with the music industry, Heather Locklear plays Fanning's mother, "Roma," and pulls the small role off with just the right amount of disdain and snobbery one might expect from the character. Jessie Spencer, who plays Brittany's love interest, an up-and-coming musician, plays his character adequately, though his Australian accent pokes through the fence in nearly every scene. At first, it might seem like his character is supposed to be a Liverpool bloke, but that tact seems to disappear as his accent seems much more Australian as the film progresses.

Though each of the actors had varying degrees of success with their characters, it is doubtless the most adorable character in the film is not one of the many human actors, but rather the fuzzy pink pig that trots alongside Brittany's character for much of the film. It's rather sad that an animal seems to be just as important as any of the human characters. So while Uptown Girls is far from the engrossing and adorable picture the filmmakers intended on creating, it may have the ability to entertain those viewers with less discerning palates. Fans of Dakota Fanning and Brittany Murphy will see those two actresses perform well, but won't be bowled over by the movie that accompanies them.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

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