Common Sense Media says
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this movie has some strong language, and Rae gives Molly the finger. Molly has casual sex with someone she does not know, and it is clear that this is typical for her. Characters drink and smoke. A character considers suicide.
What's the story?
Once upon a time there were two lonely princesses who had to save each other. The first princess is Molly (Brittany Murphy), the daughter of a legendary rock star. Her parents died in a plane crash when she was nine years old. Now 22, she lives like a princess in a tower, numbing her pain and loneliness with non-stop parties. She does not feel close to anyone and has nothing to feel proud of. When the man who manages all of her money disappears, she has to support herself for the first time, but she has no skills or dreams and no idea of how to begin. Molly gets a job as a nanny for Rae (Dakota Fanning). Rae's father is in a vegetative state following a stroke, and her mother (Heather Locklear) is always working. Like Molly, Rae hides from her pain. But while Molly tries to remain a helpless little girl, Rae tries to become a premature adult.
Is it any good?
UPTOWN GIRLS is an odd couple story, with Rae and Molly trooping along that well-traveled path from antagonism to understanding, with every single beat loudly telegraphed in advance, and every development indicated rather than shown. It's a real shame that the studio decided to make this a PG-13 movie, because younger audiences would be more likely to appreciate the story, with the little girl teaching the big girl a lesson, and they would be more forgiving about the movie's predictability because they have not seen dozens of movies just like it, only better.
The unaffected charm Murphy showed in Clueless and Driving in Cars With Boys has disappeared. Her attempts to be twinkly and adorable are a little grotesque here. It doesn't help that the plot has her taking pratfalls every time it runs out of ideas, which is often. Her love interest is so bland he is almost invisible. There is something a little creepy about the way she uses her father's artifacts to seduce him and something very creepy when he has an affair with Rae's mother. Fanning shows great class and presence, giving far more to her character than the script does. She shows us the vulnerability and loneliness inside Rae's bossy control freak and it is impossible not to be touched by her devastation over her father or her triumph when she allows herself to loosen up.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how movies are "stories to help us deal with life" and about how both Molly and Rae have different ways of trying to hide from the pain they feel.