Uptown Girls (2003)

uptown-girls-movieThe main flaw of “Uptown Girls” despite being, well, a bad movie, is that it’s never sure what type of movie it wants to be. While it’s geared toward the younger female crowd, should it be? With a basic adult theme and many complex adult issues that are dealt with within the story, would girls even understand what was going on other than knowing Fanning’s character is spoiled? Ultimately, what’s sad about this movie, is that the pig has a lot more charisma and likeable aspects than any of the other actors in this, and boy can it act! Hot damn. Seriously though, it’s hard not to find Dakota Fanning adorable. She’s a very good actress for her age and most of the time I enjoy her acting in the movies.

She’s good here and acts out the vapid character she’s given. With three people on board, it’s shocking how the screenwriters never know how to define the story, the sub-plots and doesn’t even know how to define the characters here. For instance, why is Fanning’s character really jaded with life and cynical, yet she acts spoiled? There’s a big difference, and why does Murphy’s character seem to bubble-headed and optimistic when we learn later on that these girls are pretty much the same when it comes to their family’s hardships? We’re never sure, and the writers don’t seem to be too sure either. What’s even worse is this movie looks like there were too many cooks in the kitchen, thusly the movie is very scattered into a series of events that are unrelated and never go together and fit very well at all. This is extremely muddled in not only scattered ridiculous concepts, but also seems to follow along rhythms without having any direction.

It never actually feels like a whole movie in the end, yet it feels more like a series of plots and sub-plots cut and pasted together from these screen writer’s ideas whom were never settled on how to go about binding them into one smooth story. A lot of it feels like it was squeezed in to one movie and then tacked on to each other trying to connect in a series of storytelling. It goes into all sorts of directions like taking Murphy and her boyfriend’s plot at the beginning, then Fanning’s plot, Murphy and Fanning bonding ala comedic results, Fanning coming to grips with her vegetable father, Murphy coming to grips with her own father’s death and letting go in the process, her dealing with her boyfriends refusal to commit, her dealing with the fact she’s poor, and ultimately it just all was scattered and completely boggled, and when you get down to it, none of the main plots are ever that interesting.

If they’d stuck to the plot that was advertised and then used that to draw upon a general direction, then perhaps this would have been a remotely watchable film, but it can never decide, so we’re never sure where it wants to go with it’s emotionally manipulative material. First it looks and acts like a comedy, then it goes into this ridiculous melodrama, and then back into quirky comedy over and over again, so the devices feel so utterly blatant in its attempts at jerking tears and then making us laugh, we have no idea which direction to go, so I felt manipulated. And while I was guffawing at the utter sloppiness of the plot (Molly can still receive phone messages despite her electricity and phone being cut), I was also astounded at the fact that this was so blatantly trying to imitate the success of the superior “About a Boy” with the plot lifted right off the screenplay. Two people, lost in life, one an immature adult, the other an awkward but very mature child find each other and learn to grow in life by interacting with one another and their relationship. However, “About a Boy” was a great film, and this is purely awful with characters that we never manage to relate to.

Molly is a very annoying character because Murphy never knows how to approach her. She’s ditzy but immature, yet mature only when certain scenes call for it. I’ve never found Murphy appealing because she basically plays the same character for every film, but she fails in her attempts at physical comedy and hilarity she never manages to pull off. And how many times can we sit through the same bland Aussie brooding misunderstood musician love interest? How contrived was he? Nonetheless, the relationships are very forced, especially Molly and Ray’s which is often very awkward and hardly believable. How these two people would ever be drawn to each other is beyond me, but nonetheless the script is utterly sloppy and packed to the brim with clichés. Though Dakota Fanning is adorable as usual, it’s very disappointing with a boggled storyline dissected into different segments instead of a fluid storyline and is just brought down with emotional manipulation, melodrama, and just a bi-polar mood. It’s a bad film.