That kind of relativism -- hoping for the best possible Hilary Duff movie -- is what got me to see Material Girls in a theater (it wasn't screened for critics). It's a Duff movie through and through: Hilary's mom produced it, and her sister Haylie gets second billing. (Casting her less famous real-life sister as her movie sidekick is sweetly misguided, and therefore vintage Duff.) Hil-Hil and Hay-Hay play Tanzie and Ava Marchetta, spoiled heiresses whose cosmetics empire is threatened, landing them in the poorhouse. The opportunity for cheap culture-clash humor (see entitled rich girls adjust to poverty!) and cheap shots at Paris and Nicky Hilton (or even a fictional rehash of The Simple Life), combined with the participation of director Martha Coolidge (an expert in blonde bubbliness by virtue of having made Valley Girl years ago) makes Material Girls a candidate for a teenybopping good time. The peculiar, slapdash movie they made instead nonetheless eclipses most of the star's previous pre-teen pictures, because it finally drives a Duff vehicle into the land of beguilingly awful.
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The story -- as it exists -- is classic mountain hijinks. There's a Snowboard Academy which our supposed hero Billy (Adam Grimes) goes to attend, and the community surrounding it is strange, unlike anything you've ever seen. Primarily the town is waging a class war -- and I'm not joking when I say the factions are called "richies" and "poories" -- with Billy finding himself torn between his richie friends in the Academy and the more down-to-earth poories, which includes his girlfriend (the charming Carmen Nicole). When not on the mountain and under the cruel thumb of coach (Peter Jason), the war can be found being waged at the local coffee shop "Naomibucks," operated by the raunchy Naomi (Traci Lords).
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