xXx: Return of Xander Cage
The last forty minutes of the movie do come together in a pretty diverting way.
The theory is that Brittany Murphy is trying to channel Marilyn Monroe, but as I watched "Uptown Girls," another name came to mind: Lucille Ball. Murphy has a kind of divine ineptitude that moves beyond Marilyn's helplessness into Lucy's dizzy lovability. She is like a magnet for whoops! moments.
I remember her as a presenter at the 2003 Independent Spirit Awards, where her assignment was to read the names of five nominees, open an envelope and read the winner. This she was unable to do, despite two visits by a stage manager who whispered helpful suggestions into her ear. She kept trying to read every nominee as the winner, and when she finally arrived triumphantly at the real winner, she inspired no confidence that she had it right.
Some thought she was completely clueless, or worse. I studied her timing and speculated that she knew exactly what she was doing, and that while it took no skill at all to get it right, it took a certain genius to get it so perfectly wrong. She succeeded in capturing the attention of every person in that distracted and chattering crowd, and I recalled "Lucy" shows where everyone in a restaurant would suddenly be looking at her.
"Uptown Girls" gives Murphy an opportunity to channel Lucy at feature length. She plays an improbable character in an impossible story, but of course she does. She is Molly Gunn, whose father was a rock star until both parents were killed in a plane crash, leaving her with a collection of guitars and a trust fund administered by someone named Bob. As the story opens, Bob has disappeared with all of her money and she is forced to work for the first time in her life. This does not come easy to a girl whose only skills are as a consumer.