We’ve watched a lot of bad flicks for our road trip movie series this summer. We’ve seen middle-aged A-list actors engage in homophobic humor. We’ve endured the worst of the Disney family road flicks. We’ve even witnessed Britney Spears’ failed venture into womanhood.
But, none of that compares to the nails-on-chalkboard irritant that is 1997’s so-called “comedy” Excess Baggage.
Haven’t heard of it? You’re lucky. The only fame to come from this flop was Alicia Silverstone’s Razzie nomination for Worst Actress.
Let’s put it this way: compared to Excess Baggage, starring in Batman & Robin was a good career move for her.
If you don’t hate Emily Hope (Alicia Silverstone) from the moment she appears on screen, you will soon enough. She’s a spoiled, disgruntled rich girl who doesn’t think her busy father gives her enough attention. Her father, by the way, has a British accent, which Emily does not share. That has to be the laziest way to show a character is rich and aloof. We don’t actually see him be uncaring, however, so our perspective is based solely on Emily’s, the unreliable narrator.
So, what does she do to get her father to show his love? The same things every other teenager obviously does: proudly burn down her school’s library and, when that fails, stages her own fake kidnapping.
Unfortunately, as Emily ties herself up in the back of her BMW, waiting to be rescued, car thief Vincent Roche (Benicio del Toro) hijacks the BMW, unaware of the human cargo in the trunk. Emily blames Vincent for kidnapping her but Vincent wants nothing else than to get her back home. Constantly quarreling, the two of characters set out on a road trip to get her back home.
It should be that easy, but mobsters and Emily’s surrogate father figure, the protective Uncle Ray (Christopher Walken), are hunting the pair of them down. And, Emily refuses to return home.
We won’t describe much more of the plot because it’s nonsensical and practically unwatchable.
We don’t deny it: for being a 1990s low-budget caper, the vehicles showcased in the film are actually its biggest asset. From the opening shot of her father’s 1969 Daimler Limousine, we knew the cars would be the true stars. As Vincent’s career of stealing cars is one of the main plot devices, a lot of impressive vehicles are showcased.
Emily’s laguna metallic green 1991 BMW 850i, in which she gets kidnapped, fits the part perfectly. Being a couple years old but still a BMW model, that’s exactly the type of car a rich high school teenage girl would be driving at the time, especially since it was paid for by her wealthy father. It’s also nice enough to attract Vincent to steal it, facilitating the entire plot.
After Emily burns his warehouse of stolen cars down (such a waste…), Vincent switches the car out for an even nicer 1966 Ason Martin DB6, and it’s a thing of beauty. That’s when Emily starts falling for Vincent and realizes he’s a “real man.”
Our Excess Baggage Review
Excess Baggage was the first film produced by First Kiss, Silverstone’s up-and-coming studio… and it sank it like the Titanic. With dialogue like this, though, it’s no surprise:
Vincent: “We can do this the easy way or the hard way.”
Emily: “What’s the hard way?”
Vincent: “It’s harder than the easy way.”
Emily’s character is all-in-all exasperating. She’s a violent and aggressive spitfire whose actions don’t make sense. She and Vincent both want the same thing (to get her away from him), but she purposefully enjoys worsening their situation for fun, getting them into even more trouble. Guess what? The audience doesn’t find that funny.
It slightly resembles the too-much-to-handle kidnapping victim of O. Henry’s The Ransom of Red Chief, mixed with some Stockholm Syndrome, but it doesn’t work. Nobody learns anything or matures through the entire journey. Emily doesn’t even try to reconcile with her father.
Bear our Excess Baggage review in mind and save your time if you ever come across this on the rental shelf. It’s not worth watching.
We will, however, leave you on Emily’s finest and most romantic line:
“Do you like my tummy?”