Raise Your Voice Movie Review

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.

What they don't do is get hot and heavy because "Raise Your Voice" is also a PG picture peppered with Christian undertones and messages of chastity. Surprisingly, McNamara (whose previous credits are mostly from lousy children's television shows) handles the religious elements with much more panache than he does the plot. "Raise Your Voice" contains so many time-compressing montage sequences that its four weeks of summer school feel more like four months.

Terri's faith plays a role in how she deals with her brother's death, and the music leans toward Hallelujah Chorus rehearsals and lyrics about the walls of Jericho and "someone watching over me" -- yet it's never preachy. But can someone please explain to me why movies with faith-based themes -- even unobtrusive ones -- almost always lack any semblance of originality or imagination?

Predictable to a fault and overflowing with feeble soap-operatic contrivances (Terri walks in on her guy being kissed by a Catty Rival from Central Casting), this movie brings its star down with it -- asking more of Duff than her meager acting charms are capable of delivering. Her crying jags are unconvincing (I smell onion just off screen) and her squeaky voice too forgettable to believe it landed her in an elite music program. Even when she smiles busily and sends happy glances skyward while with her new boyfriend, she seems to be posing and posturing, as opposed to acting (let alone acting naturally).

The movie's few truly natural moments come at the hands of John Corbett ("Raising Helen") as an understanding and soulful hippie music instructor, and Rita Wilson as Duff's brokenhearted mom. But even though they're good, the casting is misguided. Keith and Wilson look nothing at all like broad-faced Barbie doll Duff. Meanwhile, Rebecca DeMornay ("Risky Business," "Identity"), whom the star more closely resembles, is relegated to playing a "cool" aunt who aids and abets the girl's escape to L.A. -- a part for which Wilson would have been perfect.

Had "Raise Your Voice" been infused with some fresh ideas, it might have shown potential for rising above genre pap. But that would have required someone -- anyone -- to care about more than just Sunday School over-simplicity and separating adolescent girls from their cash.


hollie's picture


raise your voice is my favorite film i think that it says alot and will help people who want to follow thier dream hilary duff is a great actor and singer which makes it even better i love the film and everyone else i no does to!!!!!!!!!!!!!

8 years 1 month ago
View Comments

Raise Your Voice Rating

" Grim "

Rating: PG, WIDE: Friday, October 8, 2004


More Hilary Duff

Hilary Duff - All About You Video

Following the August 2014 release of the single, 'All About You', Hilary Duff has released an accompanying music video. The song is the second single...

Hilary Duff Informs FBI Naked Photographs Are Fakes

Hilary Duff, the actress best known as Lizzie McGuire, has been forced to contact US authorities about a series of faked photographs which bore the...

Hillary Duff Calls In FBI Over Faked Nude Photos

Hillary Duff has called in the FBI after faked nude photos of the singer surfaced online on Friday (September 6th). The pictures, which show a...

Hilary Duff - All About You (Lyric Video) Video

Soon to return with a new album, Hilary Duff unveils her latest taster in the form of 'All About You'.


Hilary Duff Follows Up 'Chasing The Sun' With New Single, 'All About You'

Hilary Duff sure knows how to make a comeback. After a seven year drought without new music, she released her brand new single, ‘Chasing The...

Hilary Duff - All About You (Audio) Video

This audio track comes from Porter Robinson's debut studio album, Worlds, released on 12th August, 2014. The album, published by Astralwerks, continues this particular style...

Hilary Duff - Chasing the Sun (Bloopers) Video

The first part of Hilary Duff's comeback, Chasing the Sun has an appropriately sunny video.

Ariana, Zooey, J-Lo, Miley! When Actresses Become Songstresses

There seems to be a special musical buzz in the entertainment business at the moment reserved for screen actresses who are wanting to spread their...