“The Lizzie McGuire Movie” is a classic adolescent coming-of-age tale. It reminds me of my youth – traveling to Rome the summer before high school, falling in love with a European pop superstar and becoming the new celebrity of Italy.
Well, maybe it didn’t happen exactly that way for me. Maybe I can more relate to the side story of Lizzie McGuire’s dorky best friend Gordo who looks out for her every clumsy step of the way, desperately hoping that she will one day actually fall for him.
Fans of the “Lizzie McGuire” television show on the Disney Channel – primarily comprising a demographic of pre-teen and teenage girls – are going to love “The Lizzie McGuire Movie.” If you’re not a fan of the television show, well, face the fact that this movie wasn’t made for you. If the hordes of screaming kids in the audience at the screening I saw are any indication, “The Lizzie McGuire Movie” hits its mark.
“The Lizzie McGuire Movie” begins where this season ended on television. Lizzie (Hilary Duff) is graduating from junior high school and has chosen to go on the class trip to Rome. While in the Eternal City, Lizzie runs into Paolo (Yani Gellman), a European pop star. Paolo explains to her that she is an almost perfect double for his singing partner Isabella (Duff again). While the rest of the class sightsees around Rome, Lizzie sneaks away with Paolo, who wants her to stand in for Isabella for their appearance at the International Music Awards.
Watching out for Lizzie is Gordo (Adam Lamberg). For those in the Pretty in Pink generation, Gordo is Lizzie’s Ducky – her best pal who secretly has a crush on her. Of course, like many teenage girls, Lizzie is oblivious to this and has no qualms about telling Gordo all of her feelings for Paolo. Ultimately, Gordo isn’t taken in by Paolo’s charms and makes it his duty to be sure his best friend isn’t hurt.
The Lizzie McGuire franchise is really a vehicle for Hilary Duff, Disney’s latest teenage heroine. With Britney Spears making her virginal image less and less believable every day, and Christina Aguilera dressing like a drunken Las Vegas stripper, Disney is grooming a new child star to be the latest role model for American girls.
If you’re bored one day and want some real entertainment, hop on the Internet and go to your newsgroup of choice (Google is a good place to start, but even a visit to the IMDb message boards will do the trick). Search for “Hilary Duff,” and you will be alarmed at how much time and energy Internet users devote to this 15 year old’s career.
In general, I have to say that I like Hilary Duff. She’s cute and seems pretty down to earth. Now, how will she end up when she becomes an adult after years of Hollywood pampering? Well, the jury’s still out on that one. I’ve seen first hand how an up-and-coming 15-year-old actress (who will remain nameless) turned into a sudden diva in just two weeks on a shoot because she was pampered. And that was just for a $300,000 independent film.
You will be shocked at not just how many fans Duff has on the Internet (which probably includes a large number of smarmy middle aged men among the legions of teenage girls, but you will be even more surprised at how many people out there hate her. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve been known to lash out against some of America’s on-screen sweethearts (the one topping my current list is Gwyneth Paltrow, whom I detest to the depths of my very soul), but the amount of flames launched at Hilary Duff is just ridiculous.
Yeah, “The Lizzie McGuire Movie” is riddled with more clichés than Titanic meets Pearl Harbor. Yeah, most of the characters have about as much depth as a backyard puddle after a rainstorm. Yeah, this has a plot about as complicated as you might find in an old Sweet Valley High book. But what do you expect?
Generally, the acting was consistently mediocre throughout the film, and at some points painfully bad. The best acting is courtesy of MADTV alum Alex Borstein as Principal Ungermeyer, stealing many scenes from the core cast. Duff herself has a Lizzie McGuire routine that she falls into too easily in this film. Will she prove to be a good actress in the coming years? Possibly, as long as she stretches beyond her Lizzie McGuire roots.
At the very least, “The Lizzie McGuire Movie” gives America a chance to watch Duff develop on screen, not just as an actor, but also how the world watched as Angela Cartwright developed on “Lost In Space.”