Courtesy Photo
Directed by Marco Brambilla

Starring Alicia Silverstone, Benicio Del Toro, Christopher Walken, Nicholas Tuturro, Sally Kirkland & Harry Connick, Jr.

"Excess Baggage"

Opened: August 29, 1997 | Rated: PG-13

What will Alicia Silverstone do for a living in a few years when she's too long in the tooth to play coy, bratty rich kids?

In "Excess Baggage" she's your stock Silverstone, batting her eyelashes in that sweetly sexy, under-age manner she trades on. But the shine is gone from her appled cheeks. She's still pretty, but that doesn't carry a movie, and "Excess Baggage" sorely needs carrying.

In the movie she plays Emily, an heiress who just wants a little love from her priggish poppa (Jack Thompson), a shady businessman who would rather close a deal than have a family moment.

As an attention-getter she fakes her own kidnapping as the movie opens, anonymously demanding $1 million (pocket change to her father) and locking herself in the trunk of her BMW -- which is subsequently swiped by an unsuspecting professional car thief (Benicio Del Toro).

Naturally mistaken for the kidnapper, Vincent (Del Toro) ends up on the run with Emily in handcuffs and before long they have the hots for each other.

This premise is borrowed almost whole from "The Chase," an ironic, media-mocking 1993 action flick with Charlie Sheen and Kristy Swanson. But "Baggage" abandon the humor somewhere along the line.

Not that it doesn't try. The script was written with a 1960s-style screwball rhythm in mind, but director Marco Brambilla ("Demolition Man") fails to charge the movie with the sassy, jazzy pace it needed.

Del Toro, most memorable as the mumbling Fenster in "The Usual Suspects," speaks too slowly for his comedic lines to have any zing. Silverstone matches his lethargy and the scenes in which romantic sparks are supposed to fly simply fall flat. Their potentially punchy exchanges are like listening to an old 45 at 33 RPMs.

As a result, the picture seems endless, giving the audience plenty of time to dwell on glaring inconsistencies, like the scene in which Vincent talks over the phone to his partner (crooner Harry Connick, Jr.) in the next town, and it's night for one of them and day for the other.

"Excess Baggage" consists mostly of transparent set-ups designed to allow Emily and Vincent to flirt. Her father even inexplicably puts off the ransom drop for a day, affording our stars a night together.

The movie's one saving grace is a masterfully deadpan performance by Christopher Walken as Emily's mobster uncle who comes looking for her after the kidnapping.

Turning on the creepiness full blast with that almost-blinking squint and those innocuous asides that sound menacing nonetheless ("The shop in town told me where to find you. I bought this coat there. Do you like it?"), he lends the movie just a pinch of the laughter it was going for.

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