Thursday, June 9, 2011

Double Dakota Feature: Sweet Home Alabama (2002) & Uptown Girls (2003)

It's funny, I remember seeing the trailers for Sweet Home Alabama when it came out, but I never saw the movie. Personally, I think that song is overrated. Everybody loves it, but you hear it so much, and it's truly one of Lynyrd Skynyrd's poppier songs. I like a lot of their music, but not so much that song, although it's inevitably become the de facto rock anthem for Alabama.

As for the movie itself, it's a kind of annoying story about an upcoming fashion designer in New York City who has to head home and confront her rural roots after her boyfriend (the mayor's son) pops the question. I say annoying because there's this whole conflict between city manners and country ways - and not to disparage either one, but the lovely Reese Witherspoon (who plays the lead) gets caught in between and can't seem to decide between them, when it feels like the answer should be simple. But I guess those complications are what make the drama, and I'll admit, I was taken in by the romance that influences the final decision (even if it's pretty cheesy).

Dakota's role in this film is minuscule. She plays the 10 year old version of Reese's character, and only features for a couple minutes at the very beginning of the film. But, it's a romantic scene that involves a kiss during a lightning storm!

I wasn't sure if I'd like a movie titled Uptown Girls. Not because I have anything against uptown girls, but every time I read that title, the song gets stuck in my head - and it's not really my type of music. But it turned out to be pretty good. The charismatic Brittany Murphy plays the grown daughter of a rock star, living like a modern day urban princess, until her financial sponsor skips town, and she has to learn to fend for herself. She gets a job looking after a severely uptight, germophobic child played by Dakota Fanning. The child, nicknamed Ray (short for Lorraine), lacking much parental affection, has adopted an unusually adult demeanor, whereas the rock star's daughter, Molly, herself still behaves like a child. The two don't get along at first, but they have a lot to teach one another.

I hate to admit that, this time, Dakota's character crosses the line from adorably precocious to downright annoying, but then, that's her character. She's still adorable, though, and I love her sarcasm and cynicism. And Brittany just lights up the screen. I'd have to say these two actresses really make the film, which turns out to be an amusing (and a little bit touching) dramedy. But the interaction between these two characters is where it shines. And the film culminates in a surreal theater performance that involves a squad of tiny ballerinas carrying electric guitars. Yeah. I wouldn't believe it if I hadn't seen it myself.

"Why are you buttering my plastic scone?"

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