by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: ** (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: **1/2 (out of 5 stars)
Hilary Duff as KELLY
Christy Romano as JENNIFER
Gary Cole as SIR
Shawn Ashmore as BRAD
Aimee Garcia as GLORIA
Studio: Walt Disney
Directed by: Larry Shaw
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While Hilary Duff was climbing her way to the top of the Disney Channel mountain (a position she would eventually take a nose-dive from), she made a couple TV movies. One of them was “Cadet Kelly,” also starring “Even Stevens” star Christy Romano.
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In “Cadet Kelly,” Duff plays Kelly, a very Lizzie McGuire-esque high school girl who is a free thinker and fashion guru. Her parents are divorced but still get along. (Somehow in the Disney Channel universe, there aren’t blood-sucking divorce lawyers.) However, her mother gets remarried to a head of a military academy, and soon she’s yanked from her progressive school in New York to join the student military.
Kelly doesn’t fit in very well at the military school, and it makes things worse that her new step-father is the commander. Without any finesse in keeping with protocol, Kelly has trouble separating her student/cadet life with her home life. And things get worse when she gets on the bad side of Cadet Captain Stone (Christy Romano), one of the meanest older classmen in her barracks.
This fish-out-of-water story shows how Kelly can learn to fit into her new surroundings without giving up her individuality. It has the standard family messages of believing in yourself and trying new things. If you’re not into the cheesiness of this kind of film, you’ll want to stay away.
Even now as Hilary Duff is trying to rise in her music career, never quite attaining other Disney alums like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, she’s stayed relatively pure. Unfortunately for her, she’s also stayed relatively invisible. Her movie career is nothing compared to her wild child counterpart Lindsay Lohan. And her latest feature films like “The Perfect Man” and “Raise Your Voice” haven’t been giving her the star treatment at the box office.
Still, this is a cute movie and has some decent messages for younger girls. It gives us a chance to see Duff before she really let the Lizzie McGuire fame go to her head.
The DVD comes with a behind-the-scenes feature where Duff and Romano show the audience the ropes with their military performance drills. There’s also a challenge game to play with the remote.
Christy Romano and Aimee Garcia lend their voices to a commentary track that comes in and out throughout the film. On one hand, I appreciate a commentary, although I do get irritated at the arrogance of some actors who cannot comment throughout the film, often because they’re not the main spotlight. It would have been better to let these girls just sit through the 100-minute movie and give a full commentary.
Finally, there is a “Boot Camp” party planner for the DVD-ROM. This allows you to print off invitations, games and activities that will allow you to throw a military-themed party.
Specifications: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. Fullscreen (1.33:1). English language subtitles for the hearing impaired.