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Hollywood’s loyal opposition | by maryann johanson

Uptown Girls and Freddy Vs. Jason (review)

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Monster Mash

The horror, the horror: Two hideous monsters in a battle to the death. Freddy Vs. Jason opened last Friday, too.

Seriously, though, Blackout ’03 was surely the work of some desperate humanitarian who flipped a big red switch somewhere in the Northeast U.S. in a valiant attempt to keep as many good people as possible from having their hearts and minds and souls besmirched by Uptown Girls. Were you unable to see Uptown Girls because you were stuck in a small, stuffy elevator for 12 hours? Count yourself among the lucky.

You missed seeing Brittany Murphy, the latest sorry example of what passes for a “comedienne” these days, teeter around on 18-inch heels and crash into things. Like one of those bobble dolls people put on their dashboards, she is a wobbling head on a stick, and she is “funny,” apparently, because she is clumsy and reacts to any stimulus with a slack-jawed pout and a widening of her overly mascaraed eyes. This is also, I believe, considered to be “sexy.”

You missed seeing Dakota Fanning, who is rapidly metamorphosing from “Ohhh, that little girl who’s sooo amazingly talented!” into “That freaky little grownup kid? She’s kinda creepy, isn’t she?” That impression will only be furthered by her turn here, as the kid with a stick farthest up her butt than any other ever seen on film. Why this is supposedly amusing, I’m not sure, except that wild and absurd exaggeration is pretty much the height of creativity in Hollywood humor at the moment.

Uptown Girls — or, more appropriately, UG — is kinda like an evil, terrifying version of The Odd Couple, with Murphy’s (Just Married, 8 Mile) ditzy socialite Molly Gunn as Oscar and Fanning’s (Taken, Trapped) poor little rich girl Ray Schleine as Felix. Molly’s been living off the money left by her dead rock-star dad, but now her accountant has stolen it all and she is forced to get a job. This is how you know UG is a fantasy, albeit a nightmarish one — who can get a job in this economy? Fortunately, since she is stuck in a fantasy, this bimbo, whom I would not trust with a pet rock, quickly finds gainful employment as Ray’s nanny. Ray is afraid of germs, and of not getting into Yale, and of smiling, and it’s funny, see, cuz god knows what kind of bugs Molly’s carrying around the way she gets so friendly with all the gentlemen. Can these two spoiled brats share the Upper East Side without driving each other crazy?

Bad movies are ubiquitous, of course, but it still takes a special kind of bad to make me seriously consider running from the theater, screaming and clawing my brain out. Molly and Ray are so appallingly unendurable — coddled, selfish, egocentric, fickle — that the only way to get through this film is to imagine the various ways in which they could be torn limb from limb.

Botoxed, nipped-and-tucked, carefully shellacked Heather Locklear is in this, too. I thought you should know, in case I haven’t done enough to scare you off.

Far less terrifying is Freddy Vs. Jason, another odd couple who, coincidentally, know a thing or two about tearing people limb from limb. If only there was some kind of magic remote control device you could use to transport characters from the screen in Theater No. 6 to the one in Theater No. 2 — surely these two (im)mortal enemies would have teamed up, just this once, for a quick rampage of Fifth Avenue just off the park.

Freddy Vs. Jason is much funnier than Uptown Girls, too. Wait, strike that: FvJ is funny; UG is not. I did find myself wondering, as I giggled through FvJ, if one could actually tell the difference between a slasher flick that’s intentionally parodying the genre and one that’s just so steeped clichés that it’s laughable. And I decided that you cannot. Know what? It doesn’t matter. Deliberately or not, this is a hilarious sendup of horny teens and bloodlusting monsters that love to kill them.

I haven’t seen too many of these slasher thingies, but if you’ve seen one, you’ve pretty much seen ‘em all. FvJ is just the kick in the pants needed to make the whole shebang slightly more fresh. It’s not tremendously rehabilitated — it’s akin to just hanging a worn-once shirt up to air out in the shower rather than actually laundering it — but bringing together the baddies of The Nightmare on Elm Street series and the Friday the 13th flicks is a match made in heaven… or hell, I guess.

It’s mostly more of the same-old, same-old — stupid teens getting killed in really, really gory ways. Razor-clawed child killer Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund, which all I can ever think of when I see him, even under all the Freddy makeup, is Willie the sweet, dumb alien in V) is pretty pissed that he’s been banished from the memories of the kids of Happyville, or whatever suburban paradise it was that he stalked, so he sends in the hockey-masked and not at all well Jason Voorhees (stuntman Ken Kirzinger) to remind everyone. I can’t say that it makes a whole helluva lot of sense, nor can I say that much of the film isn’t basically a retread of everything we’ve seen before: one insane homicidal madman wreaking havoc and the blood spraying out in slow motion.

But when Freddy decides that Jason has done his job and may be dismissed, and Jason don’t wanna go, that’s when it gets really fun. Yeah, it’s all a terribly choreographed mess, but… but… Freddy fights Jason. That’s all this was supposed to be about, and they go at it. It’s like if in Star Wars Episode III we get to see Yoda duel with Darth Vader — it’s cool like that. By which I mean that it’s not good, not at all, but still cool. And also Brittany Murphy is nowhere to be found.

Uptown Girls
viewed at a semipublic screening with an audience of critics and ordinary moviegoers
rated PG-13 for sexual content and language
official site | IMDB

Freddy Vs. Jason
viewed at a semipublic screening with an audience of critics and ordinary moviegoers
rated R for pervasive horror violence/gore, gruesome images, sexuality, drug use and language
official site | IMDB


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