Look, I made a lot of mistakes in sixth grade. Many of them were fashion related, as detailed in this previous post. Also, I’m definitely not saying that one time I may or may not have possibly farted during homeroom and tried to play it cool, but I’m also not entirely saying I didn’t… However, recently, another sixth grade mistake has come to my attention. And when I am wrong, I say I’m wrong so I’m using this blog to rectify that situation.
In sixth grade, I was on the El Rodeo Student News.* One weekend, I saw the Brittany Murphy/Dakota Fanning movie Uptown Girls with my father and we both hated it, so naturally I decided to show off my clearly higher-than-sixth-grade-girl standards to the entire school with a scathing review. I don’t remember details, but I do remember writing the headline, Uptown Girls: Two Thumbs Down. Now, I’d like to believe the “two thumbs down” was a play on the “Up” part of “Uptown,” but more realistically in a stroke of great pretentiousness I saw myself a mini Roger Ebert. I recently rewatched Uptown Girls, and I’d like to formally retract my review, a la The Patriot News.
In the words of another great Weekend Update guest: This movie has everything: Turk/Murray’s mole aka “tickle button,” Heather Locklear as a workaholic exec (ha!), that hot Australian guy from House, Brittany Murphy in a DIY overall dress, and Dakota Fanning at her Dakotaiest. In fact, the only thing Uptown Girls doesn’t have is the titular (singularized) Billy Joel song.
It’s the classic modern day princess story. Rich, free-spirited Molly’s rockstar parents died, leaving her a fabulous New York apartment filled with a fabulous wardrobe, a freezer of loose cash, and a pet pig. Molly may have it all (other than a job), but she’s not your average superficial rich girl– she makes a hair accessory out of a mini candle shade from Home Depot!! She even gives flowers to her old neighbor, a thong to her doorman, and her gifts to the Salvation Army! Long story short, Molly loses all her money and must get a job nannying for anal retentive, OCD, Ray, aka Dakota Fanning in everything ever.
The movie has a 14% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. I truly believe the 96 critics, as well as twelve year old me, didn’t fully grasp the true deepness of this movie. I mean, we’re talking about an unlikely friendship between a carefree heiress and a no-nonsense neat freak. AND it’s between an adult and a child. AND the child is the grown-up of the relationship and the adult is the immature one! Woah, way to blow my mind, here! Talk about originality!
This movie is just packed with emotional scenes on par with Academy Award Best Pictures. Ray may be an OCD nutcase, but there has to be a reason, right? Oh, is there! Ray’s mom completely neglects her, and her father is in a coma, a few rooms down the hall from her bedroom. She’s eight years old and must pass her father every day, but refuses to connect with him because he’s a “vegetable.” Guys, this is some real shit. As if that wasn’t enough, just one day after Molly convinces Ray it will help him to spend time with her comatose father, he up and dies. You may have felt a little twinge when Coney Island is closed the first time our girls go, but if you didn’t sob when Ray collapses onto Molly their second visit, you’re an absolute monster!
Dakota Fanning gives a memorable performance as she evolves from quoting Baryshnikov, and sanitizing plastic scones to puking post-spinning teacups at germ-ridden Coney Island, and literally letting her hair down and letting loose during a ballet performance (pictured above). Along the way, she gives a show stopping performance slapping and punching her babysitter until she breaks down in tears.
The late Brittany Murphy (RIP) plays carefree as well as anybody. And I think it is truly a testament to her acting that despite how annoying and delusional her character may be in regards to her love interest, that I couldn’t help but cry the happiest of tears when Neal showed up at Ray’s recital to perform “Molly Smiles” and reveal it was he who bought her fathers’ guitar collection at auction— can you say plot twist?!!! I hope you were paying attention M. Night Shyamalan!!!
Overall, I’d like to retract my review from ten years ago, and apologize to the El Rodeo Community- I did not do you justice as a responsible journalist and reviewer. I hope this post can undo all the damage I may have caused.
*I have a bunch of memories of this fact and the following story, but no real evidence, so keep in mind there is a small chance this entire newspaper is a figment of my imagination.
Ed note: I think Jeremiah Atkinson is one of the most genius characters to come out of SNL. I cry laughing every time I watch his original appearance.