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I’ll admit to being less than enthused about reviewing this Collector’s Edition of Uptown Girls. While I enjoy the occasional offbeat comedy, if you asked for my favourite films you’d be more likely to hear The Godfather and Fight Club than Legally Blonde or Coyote Ugly. However, in my continuing efforts to broaden my horizons I’ve decided to give the film the benefit of the doubt and plough ahead.

Uptown Girls: Collector's Edition
Film
For all of her wealth, Molly Gunn (Brittany Murphy— Clueless, 8 Mile), daughter of the late rock n’ roll legend Tommy Gunn, has never managed to take charge of her life. However, when her fortune is stolen by a crooked financial manager Molly finds herself penniless and homeless, and so she turns to friend Huey (Donald Faison— Clueless, TV’s Scrubs, in the token black role) for help. Huey sets Molly up with a job nannying his boss’ troubled daughter, Ray (played by Dakota Fanning), but this little monster is none too happy with Molly’s unconventional approach to childcare. However, as the girls’ relationship develops each begins to realise that there’s more to the other than they first thought.

Uptown Girls is about as formulaic as films get—I defy anyone not to see the ending coming a mile off, even though the filmmakers have included a couple of red herrings to try and throw you off the scent. One such herring is love interest Neal (played by Australian actor Jesse Spencer— Neighbours), an up and coming rock star who, after an extremely explosive start, has a decidedly lukewarm attitude towards a relationship with Molly.

Performances are generally good throughout, with the charming Murphy doing a good job of portraying a young woman unaccustomed to the trials and tribulations of every day life. Donald Faison, most famous for playing Turk on Scrubs, is always a pleasure to watch, but it is young Dakota Fanning who steals the show. She is remarkably self-assured for her age, and is easily a match for any of the adult actors with whom she shares screen time.

Uptown Girls: Collector's Edition
Video
I was pleasantly surprised by the 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer on offer here. I suppose I should have expected a quality presentation given the relatively short period of time that has elapsed between the theatrical and DVD releases of the film, but as many of you will know, this quality isn’t always guaranteed.

The transfer is virtually free of digital defects, and the only film artefacts I could spot amounted to the occasional black or white spec. The image isn’t as sharp as the best of the newer releases, but both this and the light grain can be attributed to the spherical cinematographic process. Colour rendition is good (with particularly realistic flesh tones), while excellent contrast and black levels reveal just the right amount of shadow detail. Overall this is an impressive effort for a relatively unknown film.

Audio
The disc contains Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kbps) tracks in English, German, Italian and Spanish. All things considered the mix is solid enough, but it offers little to excite the listener or tax a surround system. Dialogue is strong throughout, but discrete action is confined almost entirely to rolling thunder during one stormy scene. The chirpy score occasionally finds its way to the rears, but even this isn’t enough to save the mix from sounding ‘flat’ when compared to the best examples of Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks.

Uptown Girls: Collector's Edition
Extras
Kicking things off we have a thirteen-minute making of, which takes us behind the scenes with director Boaz Yakin, Brittany Murphy, Dakota Fanning and the rest of the principal cast. This is a little more interesting than your average ‘making of’, and it was nice to discover that Dakota Fanning is actually capable of acting like a little girl instead of a middle aged woman!

Rockin’ Style is an eight minute featurette that focuses on the ideas behind the film’s costume design. Now I don’t know about you, but eight seconds of looking at dresses is enough for me, let alone eight minutes…
 
Thirteen deleted scenes of varying quality follow. One of the scenes is particularly interesting, if only because it explains a hideously clumsy jump-cut that occurs in the first ten minutes of the film (you’ll know which scene I’m referring to when you see it). Other than that there’s really not much here to excite.

Chantal Kreviazuk’s ‘Time’ music video is next up, and while it’s not really the sort of track I’d choose to listen to it certainly fits the film. The video stills gallery is simply around a minutes worth of behind the scenes still photos played with musical accompaniment. Yawn. This decidedly average collection of extras is completed by the film’s theatrical trailer.

Uptown Girls: Collector's Edition
Overall
While it was an enjoyable enough way to waste an hour and a half, Uptown Girls simply isn’t my kind of film. At the risk of sounding sexist, the movie is most definitely a ‘chick flick’, and there’s something very ‘Mary-Kate and Ashley’ about the whole affair. That said, I’m always happy to watch the lovely Brittany Murphy, and Dakota Fanning is certainly an actress for the future if this performance is anything to go by.

Technically the disc offers the viewer a great transfer backed by a solid, if uninspiring, audio mix, and an average collection of supplemental material that goes some way towards justifying the price tag. I can’t really recommend the disc—primarily because I can’t see myself returning to the film—but those of you who caught the movie in theatres and enjoyed it could do a lot worse than to pick this title up.


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