Uptown Girls

Positioned as a perky comedy of the "money can't buy happiness" variety, this surprisingly sober and slow-paced film actually seems more suited to the axiom "good things come to those who wait." Orphaned at an early age, Molly Gunn (Brittany Murphy), the daughter of a rock 'n' roll idol, has grown up without a care in the world, dating handsome, eligible...read more

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Reviewed by Angel Cohn
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Positioned as a perky comedy of the "money can't buy happiness" variety, this surprisingly sober and slow-paced film actually seems more suited to the axiom "good things come to those who wait." Orphaned at an early age, Molly Gunn (Brittany Murphy), the daughter of a rock 'n' roll idol, has grown up without a care in the world, dating handsome, eligible bachelors and frequenting fabulous parties. Nestled in her eclectic penthouse on Manhattan's Upper West Side, the 22-year-old has never had to worry about holding a job or paying bills; her biggest concern is whether she's getting a wrinkle. But after Molly's financial manager decamps to parts unknown with all her cash, she and her pet pig, Moo, are destitute. Molly turns to friends Ingrid (Marley Shelton) and Huey (Donald Faison) for help. Uptight society gal Ingrid takes them in — making it abundantly clear that she expects the free-spirited Molly pay her share of the rent — but Moo and Ingrid's pricy furniture don't mix. Fortunately, Huey gets Molly a position as a nanny for Ray (Dakota Fanning), the daughter of his high-powered boss, music executive Roma (Heather Locklear); Roma is so busy she scarcely notices that her child-care provider's pig has moved in. Molly soon learns that the people skills of which she's so proud — she's even chummy with the Dalai Lama — aren't working on Ray, a cynical, germophobic 8-year-old. But as the unlikely pair spend time together, they begin to realize they have more in common than their approaches to life might have suggested. Boaz Yakin's poor-little-rich-girl story, from a screenplay by John Penotti, Fisher Stevens and Lisa Davidowitz, gets off to a very slow start and Molly's problems are, frankly, more than a little annoying until she comes face to face with Ray. As Molly's neglected charge, Fanning is the film's bright spot, and Fanning's old-before-her-years performance is a remarkable piece of work, especially for someone so young. Unfortunately, the emotionally resonant moments between Murphy and Fanning are few and far between; the rest of the film relies on goofy physical comedy — Murphy takes more pratfalls that any young woman should have to — and Molly's lackluster romance with budding rock singer Neal Fox (Jesse Spencer). Fortunately, first-rate sidekicks Faison and Shelton help keep the cliches from getting too tedious.

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