Making the Grades
If you thought previous Alicia Silverstone characters were a little clueless, wait until you meet Emily, the poor little rich girl of Excess Baggage. She begins the movie by staging her own kidnaping. After locking herself in the back of her new BMW, she eagerly awaits the arrival of her father and the police, giving her the attention she feels she deserves. Instead, Vincent (Benicio Del Toro), a common car thief, unwittingly discovers the car and steals it before Emily's coup can complete.
Of course Vincent isn't pleased to have Emily pop out of the trunk inside his chop shop, but Emily is even less impressed. Fortunately for her, Vincent is one laid back car thief -- the type of guy who goes to coffee at the local diner to think over the predicament. Unfortunately for Vincent, Emily is anything but laid back, and reacts violently upon his return. Vincent agrees to drop her off like excess baggage, but instead spends the rest of the movie trying to decide just what he should do.
I like a movie that goes somewhere, that takes the characters and the audience to a new understanding. While this film could have been a great analysis of how desperate teens make wrong decisions, it instead wallows in the self-gratification that Emily craves, and sends dangerous messages to teen viewers that might be in similar situations.
Emily's attention deficit has already led her to become an alcoholic -- she is almost always drinking in this film -- and even though her age is never revealed, she seems to be playing the part of a minor. Mix the booze with a sexual relationship with Vincent and a brush with a gang of car thieves, and you have a lethal cocktail. But instead of having Emily face her consequences, the script saves her by bringing in Uncle Ray (Christopher Walken), an ex-CIA assassin who conveniently gets Emily and Vincent out of danger. The movie ends with these two drunk in the trunk, their experiences having taught them nothing. A disturbing message for Silverstone's teen audiences.