Another bland, prefabricated feel-good vehicle for another chirpy Disney-cultivated pop-singer teen queen, "Raise Your Voice" thinks it's a brave movie full of life lessons for young people because the main character's older brother is killed by a drunk driver in the first act.
The tragedy comes back to haunt supposedly talented 16-year-old Terri (Hilary Duff in terrible platinum tresses) from depicted-as-dead-end Flagstaff, Ariz., as she spends part of the next summer at a prestigious music academy in Los Angeles -- which she does secretly and very much against the wishes her tetchy father (David Keith). But given this opportunity for genuine depth, screenwriter Sam Schreiber and director Sean McNamara blow it by recycling the most banal story elements in the misunderstood-teen lexicon. For example, who do you suppose has an on-cue change of heart after seeing Terri perform in the Big Finale?
Straining desperately to seem at once hip (for the kids) and harmless (for their parents), "Raise Your Voice" is best personified by Duff's love interest -- a clean-cut, non-threatening faux-punk aspiring musician (Oliver James from the equally vanilla teenybopper flick "What a Girl Wants"). More than once the pair (and others) badly lip-sync and air-guitar their way through overproduced and studio-polished bubblegum-rock songs, staged as if they occurred spontaneously.
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