Directed by Boaz Yakin, starring Brittany Murphy, Dakota Fanning, Jesse Spencer and Heather Locklear.

People think society girl Molly (Murphy) has it all. Or had. The orphaned child of a famous rockstar, Molly has spent most of her life living off her dead father's royalties. She never really had a proper childhood so she's never really grown up, either. And her love of shops and parties - and inability to watch the people who are supposed to be watching her father's estate - means that she's now penniless, with only one option of paying employment: as a nanny to Ray (Fanning).

Ray is Molly in reverse, a know-it-all eight-year-old who's more mature than her mother (Locklear), more cynical than even the most jaded socialite and a complete hypochondriac. Yet underneath the surface Ray is more like Molly than she'll ever admit: her mother doesn't care about her, her father is in a coma and she's constructed her own little world to keep the hurt out. But both Ray and Molly are far too stubborn to admit they need each other.

Yakin's debut was the smart urban drama 'Fresh' and he was also responsible for the feelgood school sports movie 'Remember the Titans' - films that make his name appearing at the top of this desperate mess even harder to figure out. 'Uptown Girls' doesn't know whether it should be a grown-up movie for kids or a fun one and in the end it's neither, with more stop-starts than Murphy's onscreen relationship with singer Jesse (Spencer). A good five minutes is followed by a dud ten with Murphy swinging so wildly between serious and slapstick that you wonder if two different movies have been glued together. She can't carry a film yet and Fanning shouldn't be expected to.

When the going's this tough, just go shopping.

Harry Guerin