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Excess Baggage (1997)

Directed by Marco Brambilla Screenplay by Max D. Adams, Ian La Frenais & Dick Clement

Summary: Socialite Emily Hope (Alicia Silverstone) wants nothing more than her ever inattentive father Alexander (Jack Thompson) to notice her. No matter the risk. Having a tendency to create trouble for him in the form of crying wolf comes in the latest form of a staged kidnapping in order to obtain any kind of emotion from the stunt. However in the midst, car thief Vincent Roche (Bencio Del Toro) hot wires the car and nearly misses being arrested as he drops it off at a warehouse holding several other vehicles. In what started as a simple pick up/drop off ends with Vincent claiming a bit more baggage then could have imagined.

   Ok, so that was corny and didn’t even say that much. But I happened to actually like this film, despite knowing it was certainly held no reel charm. It wasn’t what I enjoyed about the film. Though this was the first film that Silverstone produced through her short-lived production company, “First Kiss.” It was also delayed for what should have been a Christmas release in 1996. However due to poor test screenings they were forced to re-shoot and include more story-line that dealt with Benicio and Alicia’s characters. Which does make me wonder how it would have originally gone. Silverstone picked Toro personally after seeing The Usual Suspects; guess she saw something that Bryan Singer hadn’t shown us? He’s not someone you would immediately jump to cast when thinking romantic comedy but then again, why not? If you have yet to gather, I must have been one major pervert to have a crush on a 30-year-old man who seemed sketchy and mumbled more than I could actually hear. Though he’s got a great voice and confidence about himself that’s able to hold more character than any six-pack with a good tan.

    I’m also a really big fan of all the “random” movies Christopher Walken always seems to find himself in the middle of. With an absentee father and mother lost at the age of three, “Uncle Ray” was the one who looked out for Emily and made sure she nevere strayed too far. We don’t get much else out of the father except for the fact that he’s a jerk. As well, that the detectives believed him to be involved in dirty money, knowing of a handful of questionable business deals. After initially staging the kidnapping, Police are involved in an attempt to obtain the money back. But the helicopter sent to retrieve it ends up blowing the money all over the boat (and water) it lands on, way to go right? Which is why Ray ends up taking over and searches for her on his own. Showing such shame to the Detectives as it doesn’t take long at all to get in contact with her and figure out her suitors name. He even meets Vincent later at his place up north, though at that point, had dropped off Emily at a nearby hotel.

  Once they locate Emily at the diner next door, she makes a spectacle of leaving with Vincent as a means to protect him. Afterall, someone would have to take the blame for all this wasted effort from the law enforcement. Though Walken ends up taking care of business and coming out as a hero in the end. Harry Connick, Jr. didn’t get as much screen time and was the face behind his partners “talent.” He didn’t necessarily give or take anything from the film. Nicholas Turturro and Michael Bowen played the “big, bad” criminals, except that they…weren’t very threatening. The only reason one of them was able to defend themself against Emily was because he got his gun out in time. But he took some good hits before he was able to. They were basically Tweedledee and Tweedledum.

  The movie all together doesn’t have the typical Romantic Comedy feel. Though I rather liked them adding the crime aspect to it all. It balanced the film from making it too “girly” since Alicia does that well all on her own. She was the only thing I suppose I could make a complaint for, except that just seems to be her personality.  I liked how her character would flirt/fight with Vincent’s; however Silverstone teetered on a thin line of coming off too whiny and unpleasant at times. Even though she hasn’t even been in too many films, I think Amy Heckerling knows her best and has been able to showcase her in roles better suited then most of her other films. The movie didn’t feel bad per say, just kind of flat when it was all over. The ending felt a bit rushed but only because the journey to get there seemed so long. Vincent and Emily end up getting to spend more alone time with one another as she drives out to a parking garage (much like in the beginning) and opens the trunk to find him get in as the camera pans out. At least the car didn’t start jumping up and down, though I half expected it. Felt like they didn’t know which other way it could possibly end so might as well link it back to the beginning in some aspect.