A review of “Uptown Girls” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: * 1/2

Rating: PG-13 for language, adult situations

Run Time: 1 hour, 32 minutes

 

 

From the annals of bet-it-looked-good-on-paper comes yet another perky Brittany Murphy comedy, this time about the free-spirited daughter of a deceased rock star legend who finds herself suddenly and unexpectedly without her inheritance, thanks to her no-good accountant. With no visible means of support, said Manhattan party-girl needs to (gasp) get a job.

Molly Gunn (Murphy) is not without gumption.  A series of silly incidents lands this MTV princess smack in the middle of the upscale New York nanny game, playing pretend mom to a precocious (read: obnoxious) eight-year old named Ray (“It” child star Dakota Fanning). 

All the clichés are in place.  Ray is frightfully neglected by her distant music executive mom (Heather Locklear) and has the emotional armor to prove it.  The effervescent and guileless Molly bumbles her way through the trials and tribulations of proper tea parties, medication schedules, and bizarre bedtime rituals, while enduring the insufferable barbs of the Bad Seed from hell.  Think Bette Davis in “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane” and you’re getting warm.

Murphy is a decent actress in desperate need a good script to display her comic skills. The horrid script and flat jokes almost but don’t quite mask her winsome charms. Fanning’s (“I Am Sam”) otherworldly maturity is depressingly age-inappropriate; her delivery just shy of grating. The pair’s climactic pas-de-deux culminates in a hearts-and-flowers ballet recital that left me sprinting for the nearest upchuck receptacle.

Nestled into the nooks and crannies of sloppy site gags and vaudevillian slapstick are broad hints of a Morality Tale.  Will Molly transition from pampered rock ‘n roll royalty to responsible adult?  Can Ray’s inner child be rescued from the ruins of her warped grammar school psyche?  Most importantly, can two lonely hearts come together as one, rendering them Best Friends?  I don’t care, and neither should you.