[box cover]

Uptown Girls: Special Edition

Uptown Girls (2003) may be predictable, trite, and schmaltzy, but Boaz Yakin's lightweight family comedy does have one thing going for it — or, rather, two: lead actresses Brittany Murphy and Dakota Fanning. The fact that these two gals can turn a spoiled, flaky rock 'n' roll heiress and a mouthy, obsessive-compulsive eight-year-old (respectively) into sympathetic characters says a lot about their talent. Unfortunately, that talent gets little to do besides yell, make pratfalls, and flounce around in wispy, see-through dresses (someone in the costume department really should have invested in a slip or two) before welling up a few tears for the corny ending. That's because Yakin and his screenwriters conveniently gloss over the complicated bits in the story about free-spirited Molly (Murphy) and control-freak Ray (Fanning). Rich and pampered all her life, Molly suddenly finds herself destitute when her business manager absconds with her fortune. Totally inept at leading a normal life (which apparently involves baking gigantic chocolate chip cookies with a bevy of yuppie ice-queens), Molly finally lands a job as Ray's nanny. At first, the two get along about as well as peanut butter and ketchup, but — surprise! — they're soon learning from each other and becoming Best Buds. The "gee, really?" gimmick is that super-serious Ray teaches Molly how to grow up, while the spontaneous, fun-loving older girl teaches her charge how to relax and be a kid. Meanwhile, the fact that Ray's party-hopping record-exec mom, Roma (a perfectly cast Heather Locklear), pays zero attention to her lonely child, or that a little kid as obsessed with germs and order as Ray is could probably use some professional psychiatric help, is virtually ignored. And it's absolutely maddening that Molly gets off so easily; she may have a good heart, but that's not enough to make it fair that her transition from princess to peon leaves her so relatively unscathed. And she gets the guy: cute Aussie Jesse Spencer, who plays ambitious musician Neal Fox. Ah, well, the movie is a fairy tale, after all — one that, unlike Ray, normal eight-year-olds probably will adore, while the rest of us roll our eyes and count down the minutes until it's over. MGM's special-edition release of Uptown Girls offers a strong anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) and clear 5.1 Dolby Digital audio (French and Spanish 2.0 Surround tracks and English, Spanish, and French subtitles also are available), as well as a collection of fluffy, forgettable extras — a 13-minute "making-of" featurette, an eight-minute look at the film's costumes (er, "Rockin' Style"), a one-minute montage of stills, the music video for Chantal Kreviazuk's "Time," a soundtrack spot, a trailer, and 13 deleted scenes (not surprisingly, most of the stuff that was cut is not-so-family-friendly material — drinking, implied sex, and the like). Keep-case.
—Betsy Bozdech



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