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Raise Your Voice Review

By Lily Mai 03/08/2005

Lily is another contributor who originally took issue with one of my other reviews, and I challenged her to write a review of her own.  She chose to review a bad movie starring Hilary Duff called Raise Your Voice, and not surprisingly, she gave it a scathing review (I haven't seen a good Duff movie yet myself.)  Lily may have saved many from being subjected to this movie...so thanks Lily!

If there is any formula on how to make a tween movie filled with yawning Hollywood cliché, and unbelievably predictable and bland scenes, Raise Your Voice would be perfect.  Hilary Duff starred as good girl and squeaky-clean Terri Fletcher in this uninspired film about a small town girl with a big voice who wants to make it big.  Sounds familiar?  So she sends a demo to a performing art school in Los Angeles, but after a car accident that killed her brother and best friend (Jason Ritter) she stopped singing, the one thing she loved to do.  She can’t seem to find her voice anymore.  She got accepted to the summer program but doesn’t want to go anymore.  Her mother and aunt convinced the mourning and depressed girl to go, even though her overprotective father (David Keith) made it clear that she can’t go.  They lied to him saying she will spend a month at her aunt’s house in Palm Desert.

Once she stepped foot in the academy, she started to endure a new life where she meets a group of colorful and weirdly talented aspiring musicians that exposed her to see life outside of her small town home and strict father.  There’s a $10,000 scholarship awarded to the best performance at the last recital.  The competition is intense as she meets the overactive geek (Johnny K. Lewis), the gifted pianist (Kat Dennings), and comes across the snobbish and stuck-up Robin (Lauren C. Mayhew) who wants to hog the spotlight and steal the lead solo.  Upon arriving, she falls for Jay (Oliver James), a British spike-haired rocker and songwriter with charm that won her over.

The movie seemed to fly on by with Duff’s warm smile, glazing brown eyes, and cute little skirts and shirts, one that said, “Candy, Shoe, Boys”…in other words “the teens life/obsession.”  Hilary Duff tackled this role as she did in her previous films, playing the same role of being a cute girl in high school with clothes that’ll make ten-year-olds want to buy her oh-my-god-that-looks-great wardrobe after watching this film.  Duff has always played the positive good girl type in high school with a wholesomely sweet and genuine face.  But Hilary Duff is a busy girl.  While filming this movie, she was also recording her second album, doing a mini tour for her first album, and promoting her clothing line.  Duff treated this movie as if she’s just here to get her paycheck and move on to her next acting role.

The movie lacks originality and freshness.  It has too much of the same element we see infused to horrible teen movies, like New York Minute.  There’s nothing new or anything to look forward to in this movie.  It’s like a long Hilary Duff music video where we watch her flatly and jadedly sing and sing with no dead end.  There’s not even the slightest creativity input to this film.  Everything is dully straightforward and watching every scene was like nodding your head and saying to yourself “Yeah been there, seen that.”

The movie is about finding yourself, following your dream and heart, and to always believe in yourself.  However the message got lost on the way with this string of bad clichés overflowing with dreadful writing (Oh my god we’re dead…I’m dead), unoriginal characters, and a mediocre plot with no brains and no laughs.  Director Sean McNamara seems lost as he directed this should’ve-gone-straight-to-video movie.  The triteness is almost sickening to watch.  As in any teen movies (Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, Lizzie McGuire, Crossroads, etc.), there’s a last recital performance in the end of the movie where Duff sings a pop song and triumphs in doing so, to show everyone, including her dad, what she’s made of.  From the beginning to the end, you’ll find yourself saying “Please...keep your voices down.”  Unless you’re a die-hard Duff fan.


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