RAISE YOUR VOICE
*1/2 (out of 5)
October 8, 2004
Hilary Duff as TERRI FLETCHER
Oliver James as JAY CORGAN
David Keith as SIMON FLETCHER
Dana Davis as DENISE GILMORE
Rita Wilson as FRANCES FLETCHER
Jason Ritter as PAUL FLETCHER
John Corbett as MR. TORVALD
Studio: New Line Cinema
Directed by: Sean McNamara
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Normally, I’m quite kind to chick flicks, even the ones geared towards teenage girls. While I’m not a huge fan of them, I understand that they serve a purpose and cater to a specific demographic niche. I remember being relatively easy on films in the past that target teenage girls – like “What a Girl Wants,” “The Lizzie McGuire Movie” and “The Princess Diaries 2.”
With that said, my apologies to all the teenage girls out there. I just can’t be kind to Hilary Duff’s new film, “Raise Your Voice.”
It’s not even that I take issue with Duff’s singing. I’ll admit. She can sing. She’s no Britney Spears (and she’ll never be one) but she has a good voice. But I just can’t shake the feeling that this movie is nothing more than a teenage remake of “Glitter.”
This film is nothing more than a series of cliches strung together with a lot of shots of Hilary Duff in tight tank tops. I don’t mind some cliches in a movie now and then, but they still have to be executed well. In “Raise Your Voice,” they’re just thrown in, and the audience is expected to accept them.
The film opens up with Terri Fletcher (Duff) during her last day of school. Her brother Paul (Jason Ritter) is graduating and can’t wait to get out of their small town in Arizona. That summer, Terri is accepted into a music program held in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, her father (David Keith) doesn’t want her going to L.A. by herself and get caught up in the hedonistic lifestyle there. Against her father’s wishes, she sneaks away to the city of angels, only to find the competition stiff and her friends few.
This is meant to be an inspirational story, and I guess it would be if you can swallow all the saccharine in the script. I’m sure that undiscerning teenage girls are going to like it, but it doesn’t have the heart you’ll find in something like the “Princess Diaries” movies or even the run-of-the-mill weekly movie on the Disney Channel.
Part of the problem with this film is the casting. Jason Ritter plays Terri’s brother, who is just a little too close to her for my comfort. He’s good on camera, but it really seems a little creepy. Maybe Ritter had a bit of a crush on his then-16-year-old co-star.
The other colossal miscasting debacle in “Raise Your Voice” is Oliver James as Jay, Terri’s love interest. We last saw James wooing Amanda Bynes in “What a Girl Wants,” and here he plays a similar misunderstood juvenile delinquent. But again, this film is too sweet to allow anything but a sanitized character with a heart of gold. Even the bad guys, Terri’s father who doesn’t understand her desire and her teenage hottie rival Robin (Lauren C. Mayhew), don’t have any teeth.
I actually like Hilary Duff as an actor. She’s got presence, and while she sometimes comes off clunky, there’s still a likable quality to her. However, I’d wish she’d tackle some more meaty roles and not just stock characters designed to sell her latest Radio Disney album. It’s too bad for Duff that she isn’t breaking new ground, ‘cause unless she can marry someone like Nick Lachey and get her own reality television show, she’s gonna be washed up before she’s old enough to drink.
Still, Duff may be the best actor in the film, considering her fellow cast members either overact to an uber-Shatner degree (like David Keith) or slosh through their roles just to get the paycheck (like Rebecca DeMornay).
Of course, the most overrated actor in the whole mix is John Corbett. I’ve never liked him. I couldn’t stand him in “Sex in the City,” and I wasn’t very impressed with him in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” Corbett is one of those guys who can only play one-note character – and that character is a big, good looking schlub who really doesn’t have any faults. Now, maybe this might be that he’s only been cast as the perfect boyfriend, but it also might be indicative of the fact that he’s nothing more than just another pretty face.
Thank God he’s quit acting. Country music, you can have him!