Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Boaz Yakin|
|Produced by||Fisher Stevens|
|Written by||Julia Dahl
|Music by||Joel McNeely|
|Edited by||David Ray|
Uptown Girls is a 2003 teen comedy film directed by Boaz Yakin, who was working from a screenplay which Julia Dahl, Mo Ogrodnik and Lisa Davidowitz had adapted from the story by Allison Jacobs. It stars Brittany Murphy as a 22-year-old living a charmed life as the daughter of a famous rock and roll musician. Dakota Fanning, Heather Locklear, Marley Shelton, Donald Faison and Jesse Spencer also feature in the film.
Molly Gunn (Brittany Murphy) is a carefree and fun-spirited girl, living off the ample trust fund of her late rock legend father, Tommy Gunn. Molly falls for singer Neal Fox (Jesse Spencer) when he plays at her birthday party thrown by her best friends, Huey (Donald Faison) and Ingrid (Marley Shelton). They have a night of passion but he leaves in the morning, saying that he can't stay in Molly's carefree life. Adding to Molly's misfortune, she finds out that her father's accountant embezzled her money, so she is left penniless and homeless. She moves in with her best friend, Ingrid who tells her that in order to stay with her, she must find a job.
Molly begins work as a nanny of an eight-year-old hypochondriac and neat freak named Lorraine "Ray" Schleine (Dakota Fanning) who is the daughter of Roma Schleine (Heather Locklear), a music executive who is too busy to notice Ray. Ray's father is in a coma and is being treated at home by a private nurse which causes Ray to stifle her emotions to maintain order. Although she enjoys ballet, she refuses to freestyle and often quotes Mikhail Baryshnikov: "Fundamentals are the building blocks of fun." Molly attempts to show her how to have fun, which at first causes much conflict between them, but eventually Ray opens up to let Molly in.
Molly continues to pursue Neal and holds onto his lucky jacket in hopes of seeing him again. After a baking accident, Molly causes a fire that damages Neal's jacket. She redesigns it to fix the damage but Neal breaks up with Molly when he sees it, claiming he has to pursue his music career and does not have time for her flightiness. Soon after, he gets a record deal with Roma and has a hit music video with a song that Molly inspired him to write, all while wearing the jacket Molly made. Disgusted, Molly agrees to Ingrid's suggestions to sell off her possession so she can prove that she is growing up. However, after a fight, Ingrid kicks Molly out to live with Huey.
The budding friendship between Molly and Ray continues to develop when Molly takes Ray to Coney Island and explains that when her parents died, she ran away to Coney Island and rode the tea cups. She encourages Ray to talk to her father, even though he is in a coma and promises that it will help him improve. However, Ray's father dies the next day, and Ray tells Roma to fire Molly. In Roma's office, Molly calls Roma out for never paying attention to her daughter. As she leaves, Molly bumps into Neal, who begs to get back together as she was his whole inspiration. Molly turns him down and coldly tells him that he is selfish and only cares about her when she can give him something. Ray runs away from home and Roma begs Molly to find her. Molly finds Ray at Coney Island, riding in the tea cups. At first, Ray tries to be angry with Molly for raising her hopes but then she collapses into Molly's arms, crying, finally coming to terms with her grief.
Molly, deciding to take charge of her own life, takes Ray's advice to auction off her late father's guitar collection to an unknown buyer; this enables her to afford her own place. At the wake for Ray's father, Molly meets other musicians who ask her to design their clothes after seeing Neal's jacket in his video. She and Ingrid also make up and Molly finds Ray to apologize as well. She promises to stay friends with Ray and enrolls in design school after realizing her talent for fashion.
Molly arrives to Ray's recital late and is pleased to see Ray is wearing the tutu Molly designed for her earlier. She is surprised when Ray dances freestyle to Neal singing "Molly Smiles", a classic written by her father when she was a child. He plays using Tommy Gunn's acoustic guitar and the remaining ballerinas are holding the other guitars from her father's collection, revealing that he was the anonymous buyer. In a voice over, Ray says that the end was a new beginning for all of them.
- Brittany Murphy as Molly Gunn
- Dakota Fanning as Lorraine "Ray" Schleine
- Marley Shelton as Ingrid
- Donald Faison as Huey
- Jesse Spencer as Neal Fox
- Austin Pendleton as Mr. McConkey
- Heather Locklear as Roma Schleine
- Pell James as Julie
- Wynter Kullman as Holly
- Amy Korb as Kelli
The film opened at number 5 at the US box office, raking in US$11,277,367 in its opening weekend. Uptown Girls was panned by critics, with Rotten Tomatoes giving it a 14% rating based on 111 reviews.
Uptown Girls was released on VHS and DVD on 6 January 2004.
- Following Brittany Murphy's death at the age of 32 on December 20, 2009, Dakota Fanning, at age 15, stated that she cherished the time they spent together while working on the film, and that she was "very grateful that [she] had the chance to work with [Murphy]."
- Jesse Spencer sings "Molly Smiles" in the movie as well as "Sheets of Egyptian Cotton", which had additional vocals by Chris Rodriguez. However, the song "Night of Love" was completely sung by Rodriguez, but is implied in the film to be Spencer, and also sometimes credited (such as on iTunes).
- The lampshade as a hair accessory was the production team's idea, but Brittany Murphy had the idea to scrunch it up and use it as a barrette.
- The songs "Night of Love", "Molly Smiles", and "Sheets of Egyptian Cotton" are in the credits as "Written by Carlos Melendez", a member of the first lineup of Menudo.
- Director Boaz Yakin later directed (and also wrote) Safe, a crime thriller with similar plot elements.
- "Uptown Girls". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2013-09-30.
- Dakota Fanning pays tribute to late co-star Brittany Murphy