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EXCESS BAGGAGE

"The Title Says It All"

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What You Need To Know:

In EXCESS BAGGAGE, frustrated teenager Emily (Alicia Silverstone) recklessly fakes her own kidnapping in order to obtain love and a ransom from her father. Daddy is to pay a million dollar ransom so that Emily can be rescued from her BMW − having bound, gagged, cuffed, and locked herself in the trunk. Unfortunately, her best-laid plans are hijacked by Vincent, a high-tech car thief who appears at just the wrong time. Before you can say “Grand Theft: Auto,” Vincent has defeated the Beemer’s security system and has driven off with far more than he originally intended. Not until his stolen merchandise is delivered to a local chop shop does he discover that he has been carrying one very enraged passenger. Ultimately, their muddled decisions drive them toward ever-escalating peril, with police, gangsters, and Emily’s mysterious and dangerous Uncle Max (Christopher Walken) all in hot pursuit.

A surprisingly engrossing drama with occasional flashes of comedy, the movie’s negative excess baggage weighs it down. It has excessively harsh language and an ambivalence about Emily’s sexual promiscuity and nonstop drinking and smoking. With more insight and temperance, this film might have driven home a strong message about repentance and restitution, not to mention the crucial importance of a good father-daughter relationship

Content:

(Pa, LL,VV, S, D, A) Pagan worldview; 10 profanities & 15 obscenities; one nonfatal shooting, multiple threats at gun-point & paternal abuse of daughter by father; smoking, drugs; and, drinking.

More Detail:

Alicia Silverstone, barely into her twenties, has ridden a long wave of popularity arising from the surprise success of the film CLUELESS. Recently, however, she has drifted into some choppy seas: first an appearance as Batgirl in this summer’s BATMAN AND ROBIN, and now EXCESS BAGGAGE, the first effort from her very own production company, First Kiss. This film suffers from the most misleading marketing campaign in recent history. Ads show Silverstone in random, sexy poses flanked by a convertible and her co-star, Benicio Del Toro, suggesting a teen-oriented road romp which might play well at the local drive-in (if any still exist). In reality, EXCESS BAGGAGE is a surprisingly engrossing drama with occasional flashes of comedy.

What works in this film is its economy: before five minutes have passed, the entire setup is well underway, and what follows barely gives the audience time to breathe. In a poignant voice-over, Emily Hope (Alicia Silverstone), makes it clear that the entire story hinges on a frustrated teenager’s reckless attempt to attract some desperately needed attention from her father (Jack Thompson), a wealthy financier neck deep in shady transactions. (We find out later that Mom died when Emily was but three.)

Emily’s misguided effort to attract notice from her father involves a faked kidnapping, well under way as the opening credits roll. Daddy is to pay a million dollar ransom so that Emily can be rescued from her BMW, having bound, gagged, cuffed, and locked herself in the trunk. Unfortunately, her best-laid plans are hijacked by Vincent (Benicio Del Toro), a high-tech car thief who appears at just the wrong time. Before you can say “Grand Theft: Auto,” Vincent has defeated the Beemer’s security system and has driven off with far more than he originally intended. Not until his stolen merchandise is delivered to a local chop shop does he discover that he has been carrying one very enraged passenger.

Needless to say, engineering a stunt such as a bogus kidnapping requires an Olympian supply of both desperation and attitude, and Silverstone expertly demonstrates both as the chain-smoking, liquor-guzzling, sassy, but ultimately pathetic Emily squares off against her unwilling captor. As it turns out, although he may be slick with car-stealing tools, Vincent is a plodder. He can barely figure out how to deal with each of Emily’s maneuvers before she throws him a more outrageous curve ball. Ultimately, their muddled decisions drive them toward ever-escalating peril, with police, gangsters and Emily’s mysterious and dangerous Uncle Max (Christopher Walken) all in hot pursuit.

EXCESS BAGGAGE’S twists and turns are both numerous and unpredictable, executed with very competent acting from all actors, frequently clever dialogue and well-photographed scenery in British Columbia. The story generates a lot of unrelieved tension, as the characters’ fates and moral destinies hangs in the balance. As it turns out, they are indeed extricated from harms’ way in the final reel, but only with an unsatisfying glimmer of awareness that their behavior has been way out of line.

After finally driving everyone to distraction, Emily finally begins to take some responsibility for her life, which is a step in the right direction. (Her father, following in the recent Hollywood tradition of paternal anti-heroes, remains a jerk to the end.) Car thief Vincent escapes disaster when his imminent kidnapping rap is cleverly shifted to a couple of authentic kidnappers. Apparently, Vincent decides to abstain from stealing cars in the future, but nowhere does the audience hear an acknowledgment that stealing cars is morally wrong. Compared the gangsters’ violent threats and the crooked business deals underway at Emily’s father’s home, Vincent’s car thievery is portrayed as relatively benign.

Furthermore, the plot includes a budding romance between Emily and Vincent. This might have worked dramatically had it been left at a very early, exploratory stage, but, after a mere 24 hours of hair-raising shared experiences and a huge amount of bickering, they wind up drinking, kissing and spending a cozy night together (although sexual activity is neither shown nor discussed). Worse, a miscalculated “feel-good” ending implies that these two will live happily-ever-after − a ridiculous assumption given the depths of their personal problems and gross immaturity.

These dramatic deficits are compounded by an excess of needlessly harsh language, and an ambivalence about Emily’s nonstop drinking and smoking. At first, these habits play realistically as a manifestation of her disordered life, but in the final frames, Emily and Vincent are depicted chugging from a bottle of wine before embarked happily on a make-out session in the trunk of her car. All of this negative excess baggage is truly unfortunate: with a little more insight and temperance, this film might have driven home a strong message about repentance and restitution, not to mention the crucial importance of a good father-daughter relationship.

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Our small team works tirelessly to provide resources to protect families from harmful media, reviewing 415 movies/shows and writing 3,626 uplifting articles this year. We believe that the gospel can transform entertainment. That’s why we emphasize positive and faith-filled articles and entertainment news, and release hundreds of Christian movie reviews to the public, for free. No paywalls, just trusted, biblically sound content to bless you and your family. Online, Movieguide is the closest thing to a biblical entertainment expert at your fingertips. As a reader-funded operation, we welcome any and all contributions – so if you can, please give something. It won’t take more than 52 seconds (we timed it for you). Thank you.

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4000+ Faith Based Articles and Movie Reviews – Will you Support Us?

Our small team works tirelessly to provide resources to protect families from harmful media, reviewing 415 movies/shows and writing 3,626 uplifting articles this year. We believe that the gospel can transform entertainment. That’s why we emphasize positive and faith-filled articles and entertainment news, and release hundreds of Christian movie reviews to the public, for free. No paywalls, just trusted, biblically sound content to bless you and your family. Online, Movieguide is the closest thing to a biblical entertainment expert at your fingertips. As a reader-funded operation, we welcome any and all contributions – so if you can, please give something. It won’t take more than 52 seconds (we timed it for you). Thank you.

Movieguide® is a 501c3 and all donations are tax deductible.