Raise Your Voice Movie Review

Bubblegum princess Hilary Duff's fleeting film career has reached the unpleasant stage where the wad of chew we're being offered has grown rubbery and flavorless. Our jaws ache just thinking about gnawing on a lump of sugar this size. What once was cotton-candy sweet now resembles the sticky paste that clings to the cardboard cone. Common sense tells you this junk is unappetizing. Why put your belly through such torture?

Raise Your Voice takes a feeble stab at building a feature film around a preconceived pop soundtrack of Duff tunes. It aims for Fame and ends up with famine. Following graduation from Riverdale High - seriously, were Archie and Jughead her classmates? - squeaky-clean Terri Fletcher (Duff) enrolls in the summer program at an elite performing arts academy. Competition is fierce, and so are the backstage stereotypes. Upon arrival, Terri falls for a British songwriter (Oliver James), befriends the hyperactive geek (Johnny K. Lewis), coaxes the talented recluse (Kat Dennings) out of her shell, and locks horns with the resident snob (Lauren C Mayhew). Who has time to sing when the student body is filled with such cardboard caricatures of standoffish overachievers?

Yet sing Duff does, and when notes flow from this mouthpiece for processed rock, Voice becomes the excruciating equivalent of paying top dollar for a Led Zeppelin reunion concert but showing up to the arena and getting off-key renditions of Top 40 songs sung by drunk coeds during a sorority rush party. Maybe I'm the wrong target for Duff's heartfelt dramatics, but as a casual observer, I just don't see the draw. The young star wears a perpetually goofy grin, her helium-tinged squeaker of a voice peaks repeatedly, and she's got a flat and boring way of delivering flat, boring lines. At least Voice allows unemployed actors like John Corbett, Rita Wilson, and Rebecca De Mornay to squander their abilities in the name of collecting paychecks.

To dismiss Voice as a tedious after-school special unintentionally insults such riveting features as Stoned with Scott Baio and The Pinballs with Kristy McNichol. Loaded with "been there, danced through that" lessons about overcoming adversity and refining one's talent, Voice shamelessly exploits every cliché Hollywood has to offer. Deceased relatives return from the grave at key moments for inspiration, a stubborn father experiences a last-second change of heart, and the lone poor character in the cast - who happens to be African-American - wins the end-of-the-year music scholarship. I hope I didn't ruin anything for you.

Deleted scenes, outtakes, a featurette, and a music video can be found on the DVD.

No offense intended: But does her shirt really read "dandy hoe"?


Vanessa-Louise's picture


do you really have to be so derogatory towards teeny pop feel-good movies? I for one actually enjoyed the film, and so did most of my friends. considering I'm 19 and my oldest friend, who just happens to be a bloke, is 27, I would hardly class us as 'adolescent girls, easily separated from their cash.' I am the first to admit the plot was sparse and the religious undertones were completely apparent, but do you ever stop to think that sometimes people want to be able to guess whats about to happen, because most of the time half the fun is waiting for it (and by the way everyone was expecting terri to get the scolarship).Also you should have given mentoin to the violinist in the film. now my 15 year old sister want's to take it up and if it stops her following suit with her friend and being a single mum by the time she is 16, the film is worth it's weight in gold!

8 years 10 months ago
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Raise Your Voice Rating

" Unbearable "

Rating: PG, 2004


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