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KIDS ON FILM

Teenagers Believe Star Can Carry 'Excess Baggage'

September 11, 1997|LYNN SMITH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

IRVINE — In "Excess Baggage," a lonely heiress on the edge (Alicia Silverstone) stages her own kidnapping to get her father's attention but instead attracts a sweet-natured car thief (Benicio Del Toro) who steals her car while she's hiding inside. (Rated PG-13)

So what if mainstream movie critics panned nearly everything about this movie, from the acting to the concept? They undoubtedly are--how shall we say?--already on the far side of the hill from most of the audience.

But teenagers liked what they saw: faces a little closer to their age than Sean Connery's.

"We all wanted to see it. It's kind of a teenage movie, something we could relate to," said Samantha Robinson, 16, of Irvine. Girls particularly wanted to see Alicia Silverstone, the spoiled blond motherless rich girl from "Clueless" who plays a slightly older spoiled blond motherless rich girl in this movie.

"I read a really bad review of it. They totally bashed her and said how bad she was and a brat and all this stuff," Robinson said. "I thought she did a really good job. I thought the movie was really cute."

Robinson and her friend Amanda Smith, 16, of Irvine also liked Benicio Del Toro in the role of the quirky car thief with a heart of gold.

The radio-station-hip soundtrack was also a plus, they said.

The drama, with parts dark and dank, seemed to be the opposite of the light and airy "Clueless," said Callie Rasmussen, 15, of Laguna Hills, who came with a group of friends.

The action unfolds in the drizzling Pacific Northwest, where Emily (Silverstone) has set fires in boarding school to gain the attention of her father, a shady multimillionaire who usually sends his longtime pal "Uncle Ray" (Christopher Walken) to take care of Emily's tantrums.

Her latest scheme goes awry when Del Toro unknowingly steals her along with her car, she sets fire to a warehouse filled with stolen autos, and the two have to deal with angry gangsters, the FBI, Uncle Ray and each other.

It's not your typical teenage love story.

For one thing, Del Toro clearly isn't a teenager. For another, despite their good looks and cutesy smiles, they embark on a rather hard-edged drinking spree that even some kids found questionable.

What's more, the pair engage in an (off-screen) affair that no one seems to notice is probably illegal but is made to seem OK because after knowing each other for only two days, Emily can tell he cares more about her than her father does. Which isn't saying much.

For some kids, it was all a little confusing. "They try to make them out like all heroes and heroines and they were all like drinking and smoking," said Jamie Miller, 16, of Laguna Hills.

Indeed, Silverstone smokes throughout the movie, which bothered some kids, and made others wonder why it was even necessary.

But most of their complaints were about small stuff. Silverstone's signature pout, for example, wore thin for at least one admirer.

"I didn't like her lips and the way she talks," said Becky Foster, 16.

The movie didn't provide many surprises for the kids who said the previews had given away key moments.

But kids still like Alicia Silverstone so much that they said they'd go see her next movie, whatever it is. However, some said they wish she would try a new role besides a spoiled blond motherless rich girl.

"Maybe that's her thing, what she's good at," Robinson said. "But it would be interesting to see her do something different."

* FAMILY FILMGOER, Page 20

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