Over the years, we've seen dozens of films labeled as chick-flicks that hold true to the same clichés, jokes and rehashed plots that have been done over and over again. After seeing a trailer for `Uptown Girls,' one would naturally think that the film would be a hopeless mesh of the same simple ideas of a lost girl or woman trying to find herself in the most unlikely of places. In all honesty, `Uptown Girls' is just that. However, it has some redeeming qualities that make it rise above its own conventional nature-it actually has an emotional depth to its characters that wouldn't occur under normal circumstances. Also, it stars Brittany Murphy and Dakota Fanning, two wonderful actresses that dazzle the screen with their very presence.
Molly (Murphy) is a woman in her mid-twenties who is completely detached from reality. Her deceased rock-star father has left her a wealth that affords her the finest apartment, friends and possessions that money can buy. However, life turns upside down for Molly when her broker skips town with all of her money. All of sudden Molly is faced with a world where everything she's been absorbed in has disappeared. Her only choice now is to get a job and start living life like a normal person. After several attempts at some of Manhattan's most elite shops, she accepts a position as a nanny for a friend's boss. But she has no idea what she's in for-a little girl named Ray (Fanning) who is completely obsessive and compulsive. What's more, she wants nothing to do with Molly. The two feel each other out and eventually start to discover that they have a great deal in common, as they are both suffering from the loss of the one's that they cared for most deeply. As such, they have both entered into their own delusional worlds that don't hold true to reality. It's up to the two to help each other out in finding a purpose in life and discovering the true beauty of friendship.
Fanning is truly the prize of `Uptown Girls.' She's an adorable young actress who can actually perform. She steals every scene she's in and the audience can't get enough of her. The moments in the film where she breaks down and cries, you get the impression that its real and this isn't acting-she has that the innate talent to become the characters that she portrays in the script marvelously. Look for her in the recent `I am Sam,' as well as in `The Cat in the Hat,' coming this November. Murphy proves once again that she is a gifted actress. I guess we can forgive her for this past winter's `Just Married,' as her track record generally shows her showing off real talent in films like `8 Mile,' and `Girl, Interrupted.' Her portrayal of Molly makes the audience feel sadness for her character, but at the same time, we can't help but feel that she is incredibly pathetic, and not in the comic sense. The most rewarding part of viewing `Uptown Girls' was how tender the film is. Murphy and Fanning come alive together and you feel their pain and the isolation that they have surrounded themselves in because of the lack of truly loving people in their lives. You walk out of the theater fond of the characters and rooting them on at the end, regardless of the film's parallels to so many others in the genre. `Uptown Girls' isn't a great movie, but it sure is something that is surprisingly likable, if not lovable. ***