The sleeper success of Clueless made actress Alicia Silverstone a popular celebrity with young girls and adolescent boys. With this newfound fame and power she chose Excess Baggage as her first post-Clueless headlining feature. Bad decision. It’s hard to gauge if Silverstone the actress is unappealing or if it’s just the obnoxious character she is portraying. In any case it’s a baffling choice for a star vehicle, and a complete dud.
Emily Hope (Alicia Silverstone) is the spoiled daughter of a wealthy businessman. As the picture opens, Emily is faking her own kidnapping, and has alerted the authorities to her whereabouts. She’s locked herself inside the trunk of her expensive BMW in keeping up with the phony abduction story. However, car thief Vincent Roche (Benicio del Toro) steals the car before the cops can locate the missing vehicle. He is more than surprised when he arrives back to his shop and discovers Emily handcuffed in the boot.
Back on the home front Uncle Ray (Christopher Walken) has been brought in to track down his vanished niece. Things become complicated by a scheming set of truck drivers (Nicholas Turturro, Michael Bowden), and a blossoming romance between Vincent and Emily. Even though she’s a bratty, chain-smoking, borderline alcoholic minor that doesn’t stop her criminal capture from falling for her.
It must be said that Alicia Silverstone and Benicio del Toro have no chemistry as a screen couple. Furthermore, del Toro’s method approach to acting overshadows his minimally skilled co-star. The sub-Tarantino late-90’s effect is in full swing, the group of unlikable characters populating a nihilistic world doesn’t jive with the dopey comedy and romantic tone that occasionally surfaces through. Excess Baggage not only represents one the strangest career moves imaginable, but also one of the worst films of 1997.
Director: Marco Brambilla
Stars: Alicia Silverstone, Benicio del Toro, Christopher Walken