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Raise Your Voice Review


Terrible
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?

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What A Girl Wants Review


Weak
Don't be fooled by the title. Despite being named after a Christina Aguilera song, What a Girl Wants is not a movie about a good-girl-turned-trashy-ho. Rather, it's the story of a sweet, all-American girl who generally enjoys her life but can't get past one thing: She's never met her father. As her high school days come to an end, young Daphne Reynolds (Amanda Bynes) decides it's time to meet this mysterious man who managed to woo her mother so many years ago, and so she throws her passport into her backpack and heads off to London.

What ensues is a standard fairy tale: Daphne quickly finds her father, Henry (Colin Firth), but is hindered in her attempt to forge a meaningful relationship thanks to an evil stepmother and debutante stepsister who are only interested in Henry's status and wealth. Fortunately, Daphne's got her American charm on her side and, with the help of her wise grandmother and cute new boyfriend, she's able to win Henry's heart and even manages to get him back together with mom. They all live happily ever after, as we are told at the end.

Continue reading: What A Girl Wants Review

What A Girl Wants Review


Weak

Knowing full well that the audience for "What a Girl Wants" would consist almost entirely of 'tween girls too young to recognize its artificiality and paint-by-numbers banality, director Dennie Gordon doesn't even bother trying to make the picture palpable to anyone with more discerning tastes.

A lollypops-and-rainbows adventure about a free-spirited New York teenager (the Nickelodeon-launched Amanda Bynes) running away to London to find the blue-blooded daddy she's never known (Colin Firth), it's a movie that virtually ignores its raison d'etre of father-daughter bonding in favor of stock tourist footage (with Bynes hanging off the back of a double-decker bus), music-video shopping montages, rivalries with snooty soon-to-be step-sisters, and flirtations with an unthreateningly cute working-class boy (Oliver James) who plays guitar and rides a motorcycle.

Growing up in a fifth-floor Chinatown walkup with her bohemian wedding-singer single mom (Kelly Preston), Daphne Reynolds (Bynes) has always heard the story of how her parents met as globetrotting college kids and were married by a Bedouin tribal chief before going to England to "get married for real" (the film makes several such offensively ethnocentric gaffes). But when his crusty family sent her packing and lied to the young Lord Henry Dashwood (Firth), saying she had left him, mom went back to the U.S. pregnant and Henry matured into a stiff-upper-lip politician.

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Raise Your Voice Review


Weak

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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Oliver James Movies

Raise Your Voice Movie Review

Raise Your Voice Movie Review

Bubblegum princess Hilary Duff's fleeting film career has reached the unpleasant stage where the wad...

What a Girl Wants Movie Review

What a Girl Wants Movie Review

Don't be fooled by the title. Despite being named after a Christina Aguilera song,...

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What A Girl Wants Movie Review

What A Girl Wants Movie Review

Knowing full well that the audience for "What a Girl Wants" would consist almost entirely...

Raise Your Voice Movie Review

Raise Your Voice Movie Review

Another bland, prefabricated feel-good vehicle for another chirpy Disney-cultivated pop-singer teen queen, "Raise Your Voice"...

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