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Overall Rating

Awesome: 34.18%
Worth A Look: 6.33%
Average: 8.86%
Pretty Bad: 12.66%
Total Crap37.97%

3 reviews, 61 user ratings

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Raise Your Voice
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by EricDSnider

"This movie's goal is to prove that Hilary Duff is talented. It fails."
2 stars

No one expects quality from these silly wish-fulfillment movies that tweenage girls like, but "Raise Your Voice" is more inept than most. It perpetrates every cliché of the "follow your dreams" genre, which is bad enough, and then compounds the agony with laughably incompetent directing and storytelling.

It stars Hilary Duff, making her fifth film appearance in 19 months, for an average of one movie every 15 weeks since last March (and that's not even including the ones she released under her other name, Mandy Moore). Her last film, "A Cinderella Story," started sucking less than three months ago, and in fact is still sucking in some theaters this very day. There has been a glut of Hilary Duff, is my point, and I cling to the hope that "Raise Your Voice" will convince Hollywood that there is such a thing as too much of a mediocre thing.

In the grand tradition of Mariah Carey in "Glitter" and Jessica Alba in "Honey," Hilary Duff plays Terri Fletcher, a 16-year-old Flagstaff girl with a dream. She wants to shake off the dust of this one-horse town and become a singer. She is allegedly gifted enough to be accepted into the Bristol-Hillman Music Conservatory's three-week summer camp for high school students -- but unfortunately, her dim-bulbed, toothpick- and scenery-chewing father Simon (David Keith) won't let her go. Why? Because it's in L.A., and L.A. is where teenage girls get raped and murdered, basically. (Pshaw, like that doesn't happen in Flagstaff! Like, ALL THE TIME!!!!)

Before Terri even has a chance to worry about it, though, the movie throws her a curveball in the form of a loved one being killed in a car accident. As always, this accident was caused by a drunk driver running a red light; drunk drivers running red lights are the No. 1 cause of loved-one deaths in movies, and "Raise Your Voice" is not the sort of movie to buck trends.

Since grumpy dad won't let Terri go to the conservatory, she and her sympathetic mother (Rita Wilson) hatch a scheme. They tell Dad that Terri has gone to stay with her Aunt Nina (Rebecca De Mornay) in Palm Desert for a few weeks, when in fact she's in L.A. (I guess Dad doesn't see the coincidence of Terri being 90 minutes from the conservatory during the exact period of time she was hoping to be AT the conservatory. Dad isn't bright, I don't mind telling you.)

Once Terri gets to Bristol-Hillman, the movie has to shift from weepy family melodrama to "Fame"-inspired suffer-for-your-art melodrama. There are montages of students in various voice or instrument classes, rehearsing tirelessly, keeping late hours, having impromptu jam sessions with their fellow student-musicians on the quad, and so forth. Terri keeps bursting into tears and packing up her stuff with the intention of going home, so unable is she to deal with the rigors of such an intensive program.

And how does the movie convey these rigors, you ask? Well, in one scene, Terri can't hit the high notes in Handel's "Messiah." And as if THAT wren't enough, she's ALSO unliked by the snobby, popular Robin (Lauren C. Mayhew). How can you expect her to cope with such hardships? Who do you think she is, Job?!

The movie keeps insisting that Terri is an "outsider" in the program, but I don't really get that. She's pretty, thin and dresses fashionably, just like the popular girls. She's only an outsider because someone thought audiences would respond better to an underdog story than they would to a story about a pretty girl who gets what she wants. They're probably right, but still.

For that matter, I'm not sure why Terri's even in the conservatory program to begin with. The only instrument she plays is piano, and that only barely. Mostly she's a singer -- but her voice is one of those breathy pop voices, not a classical voice such as would be welcome at a snooty conservatory where students are singing Italian operas and Handel's "Messiah."

I'm equally perplexed by the end-of-term final projects students must give in order to compete for a scholarship. All the training is classical, but most of the performances at the talent show are modern, even avant garde. I can't imagine the stern Russian voice teacher being impressed because someone made her violin sound like an electric guitar, can you? Nor do I think he would care that Terri and her British boyfriend Jay (Oliver James) teamed up to write a bland, forgettable pop song, though this does not stop the movie from making us hear the entire song, from beginning to end.

The director is Sean McNamara, purveyor of such fine children's fare as "3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain" and the Disney Channel's "That's So Raven" and "Even Stevens." I don't think he has any idea what he's doing. Not that first-time writer Sam Schreiber's hole-riddled screenplay helps him much, but the directing is sloppy and artificial. There are numerous shots of people playing instruments, as you might expect, and seldom does it look even remotely like the actors are actually playing. I mean, not even close. And the one time Hilary Duff is supposed to get her opera part right, it's quite clearly someone else's voice dubbed in, with Duff badly lip-synching it. If you can't compose convincing shots of people performing or singing, maybe you shouldn't direct a movie about people who perform and sing. I'm just sayin'.

You know that dumb old comedy bit where someone asks two people what they'd doing, and since they don't want to say what they're actually doing, they lie, and give two different answers simultaneously? For example, one says, "Watching TV" while the second says, "Eating dinner"? And then they try again, this time trading responses, so now the first one says, "Eating dinner" while the second one says, "Watching TV"? This movie has one of those bits.

And you know that old romantic-comedy plot device where the forceful ex-girlfriend of the guy tries to patch it up with him and plants a kiss on him JUST at the moment the current girlfriend walks in? And then the current girlfriend refuses to listen as the guy explains that he did NOT initiate the kiss, and that in fact he was about to smack the ex-girlfriend off of him when she walked in? This movie has one of those, too.

In fact, I daresay the movie has every cliché and formula you could imagine, each more sloppily executed than the last. It has no spark, no wit, and no purpose other than to convince the world that Hilary Duff is a celebrity. I wasn't buyin' it 19 months ago, and I'm not buyin' it now.

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originally posted: 10/11/04 05:36:26
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User Comments

4/24/11 Jenna Loved it. It was cute and sweet. Not Oscar material but worth seeing. 3 stars
8/20/09 Miki The classical song that the 4 teachers were playing is Vivaldi's "Four Seasons (Winter)". 4 stars
6/21/09 Savannah great movie, 5 stars
9/28/08 Brianna your a crappy critic, this movie was awesome.. so i think you should get a new job. 5 stars
7/19/08 IceKat For goodness sake. The movie was good! What was the classical song she was singing? 4 stars
4/19/08 tim does any one know the song name for these lyrics from this film there's a "light in me" 5 stars
11/01/07 cody a good movie with great story about facing your fears and not backing down. duff is hot! 3 stars
10/30/07 Beau This was beautifully acted and was a very light-hearted film, very enjoyable!!! 5 stars
10/07/07 Ebow its very inspiring please hata stop hating its a good movie or u wud prefer american pie 5 stars
9/15/07 charlie Yea wats da piano music called 3 stars
8/20/07 gen hi guys does anyone know the name of the classical song that the 4 teachers played together 4 stars
7/25/07 Elizabeth It was one of my FAVORITE movies!!!!!I loved it!!!! 5 stars
6/17/07 sabahet what's the name of song which played DENISE GILMORe on electric violin? 5 stars
1/11/07 Sweet Perez loved it I watched it over 70 times 5 stars
12/06/06 Lozy best H.D. film eva! I luv da song at da end-It roks!!! 5 stars
11/23/06 Missy Does anybody know the name of the songs that the black girl plays on her Electric Violan?? 3 stars
7/09/06 Rio This does nothing but make Hilary's haters hate her twice as much! 1 stars
6/27/06 someone i love it and all u haters critics need 2 shutup hilary did nothing but make a great flim!! 5 stars
5/25/06 N/a I think you are all idiots...THIS MOVIE SUCKED...but the violin music was decent. 1 stars
4/03/06 JRE music's good. movie's trash. you'll either love it or hate it 2 stars
3/23/06 tabiya karim best worst best worst 5 stars
3/09/06 Anthony Feor Hilary needs a new agent 1 stars
11/08/05 Lee Can only be liked by 12-year-old girls, extremely gay men, and soccer moms. 1 stars
10/26/05 ya mum gay gay gay 1 stars
10/23/05 Kale "Someone's watching over me" . . . and he's telling me not to see this crap. 1 stars
9/24/05 emely i love tjis movie because its my same story written in a diffrent person! 5 stars
9/04/05 Paige bennett I loved the movie and i can really relate to it a lot! 5 stars
8/09/05 Milana This movie is just perfect full of music and life and reality .soo great. Just fantastic!!! 5 stars
8/01/05 danielle the best film ihave ever seen 5 stars
7/20/05 Chris Typical Hilary Duff movie 1 stars
7/17/05 carolina y think raice your voice is an amazing movie and thinking what you said y SAID YOU SUCK 5 stars
6/27/05 dan garbage anough said 1 stars
6/03/05 heather campbell I loved It 5 stars
5/11/05 Robin Garrow I loved this film. I deffomatly am going to buy it. 5 stars
5/08/05 Burtie it was good for her, it was a challenge, it was like her first dramatic role 4 stars
4/21/05 Riviera I'm also a teenage girl with a dream. It is to throw Ms. Duff into a big bucket of acid. 1 stars
4/06/05 Julietta Davis I love Hillary Duff! I have dreams too! 5 stars
4/02/05 Megan I liked it well enough 4 stars
3/31/05 Madeira I'm going to raise my voice: THIS MOVIE SUCKS!!! 1 stars
3/28/05 Netsurfer Holy shit this movie sucks. 1 stars
2/24/05 Mary JD I didn't particularily like this film. I'm not a big fan of Hilary Duff 1 stars
2/07/05 craig varney made for tv at best 2 stars
2/05/05 Melissa wait for DVD 3 stars
1/19/05 liz the best 5 stars
12/15/04 Gray lame 1 stars
12/11/04 aida hernandez the movie was fantastic! i actually made me cry at the end. 5 stars
12/03/04 Hilary Adamson Groovy until cliche of stalker kisses guy& turns his girlfriend against him. 3 stars
10/29/04 kristy it was kewl as and i have seen it 10 times 5 stars
10/24/04 Frankie NICE 5 stars
10/23/04 Jaimee Kitzmiller It was a good movie 5 stars
10/20/04 none its the best hilary duff movie yet! 5 stars
10/16/04 Naka Awful remake of "Save the Last Dance." Duff is a talentless whore. 1 stars
10/15/04 Raven Sparx it was great it showed you to follow your dreams no matter what 5 stars
10/15/04 eugene well its not as good as DEBBIE DOES DALLAS 1 stars
10/12/04 jessica brumit I LOVE THIS MOVIE!!! ITS SO SAD BUT HAPPY AT THE SAME TIME..I CRIED! 5 stars
10/12/04 Colin Hillary Duff's carear begins a Countdown to Extinction 1 stars
10/11/04 Kris Lindsay Lohan could kick this chick's ass! 1 stars
10/07/04 Lauren Skinner 1 stars
10/02/04 Ray Bah 2 stars
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  08-Oct-2004 (PG)
  DVD: 15-Feb-2005



Directed by
  Sean McNamara

Written by
  Sam Schreiber

  Hilary Duff
  Jason Ritter
  John Corbett
  Rebecca De Mornay
  David Keith
  Rita Wilson

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