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The Lizzie McGuire Movie   C+

Walt Disney Pictures

Year Released: 2003
MPAA Rating: PG
Director: Jim Fall
Writers: Susan Estelle Jansen, Ed Decter, John J. Strauss
Cast: Hilary Duff, Adam Lamberg, Alex Borstein, Yani Gellman, Ashlie Brillault, Clayton Snyder, Jake Thomas, Brendan Kelly.

Review by Sean O'Connell

Now that I've watched The Lizzie McGuire Movie, I'm itching to see its script. Not to analyze nagging plot points or revel in the deliciously witty word plays. I just want to confirm my suspicions that the script was written on scented pink paper torn out of a Hello Kitty notebook. The way I envision it, the words aren't typed, but hand-written in flowery cursive letters. The margins are filled with fevered quizzes such as, "Do you like me? Check yes or no." And all of the "i" letters are dotted with hearts.

Not that it matters, as long as the end result satisfies the target teen audience, and Lizzie McGuire certainly should. Much like the successful Disney Channel television show, The Lizzie McGuire Movie is wholesome, endearing and motivational, a feature that has been scrubbed so squeaky clean, you can eat off of the film stock.

If you're unfamiliar with Lizzie's exploits, stop reading this and see something else. The rest of you already know she's played by Hilary Duff, a luminous young talent who's so bubbly, she's practically carbonated. Lizzie lingers in the shallow end of the popularity pool with her best friend, Gordo (Adam Lamberg), and focuses most of her energies on not tripping over her own two feet. She even has an inner voice that's personified by a cartoon Lizzie, a charming character that never escapes a situation without falling over.

The movie has Lizzie celebrating her middle school graduation with a class trip to Rome. She and Gordo swear they'll find adventure, though only Lizzie actually succeeds in the mission when she's approached by a famous Italian pop star (Yani Gellman) and asked to fill the shoes of his singing partner, who has quit the biz.

It's all an excuse for a well-tested fantasy formula of "Musical Number" + "Mild Mischief" + "International Setting" = "Pure Teen Fantasy." The pleasantly personable Duff makes it work, whether she's gliding across a stage or bumbling through a valedictorian speech under the persistent glare of her peers.

From the overly produced pop soundtrack to Duff's unblemished complexion -- she just graduated eighth grade? -- The Lizzie McGuire Movie has been polished so smooth by the Disney machine that any negative comments would slide right off its surface like bacon grease slipping off a Teflon pan. It's tailor-made entertainment, but it keeps its audience in focus from start to finish and wisely opts to play to them, not pander to them.

Review published 05.08.2003.

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