Call it clichéd, predictable, yet another teen movie, whatever – anyway you cut it, Raise Your Voice is a sad attempt by Hilary Duff to win the hearts and minds of prepubescent teen girls everywhere. With trite dialogue, obvious plot twists, and a sickeningly sweet performance by Duff, Raise Your Voice falls flat before it ever gets a chance to fly.
Voice follows Duff as she portrays Terri Fletcher, a 16-year-old, all-American girl who attends church every Sunday and loves her family, but secretly yearns to break free of her overprotected, sheltered life. When a devastating tragedy occurs, Terri is spurred into living her dreams and persuades her less-than-enthused parents to let her attend a musical academy's summer program in Los Angeles, California. While there, Terri – of course – has all the life-altering experiences that change her into the type of person she wants to be, such as falling in love, dealing with peer pressure, and making friendships that will last forever.
It's not so much Duff's squeaky-clean image that makes Raise Your Voice unbearable – well, it is a large part of it, to be honest – but more the blatantly obvious plot and script that unfold as the movie progresses. With lines such as "This place is the scariest, hardest, best thing that has ever happened to me," how could she not succeed?
Banality aside, there are some positive aspects of Raise Your Voice which deserve to be recognized. As annoying in large doses as she is, Duff still manages to convey an innocent, sugary-sweet image that only gets reinforced with each bubblegum pop song she sings. An enjoyable performance by newcomer Oliver James and a cameo by pop singer Ashlee Simpson also make Voice a little more bearable, if only for a 12-and-under crowd.
"Haven't I heard of this movie before?" you may be asking yourself, and the answer is, sure. Except it was called Flashdance, Fame, She's All That, Save the Last Dance, or, for those few people who actually saw it, Glitter. All of which, unfortunately, did this storyline a lot better than Duff attempts to in Raise Your Voice.
Raise Your Voice (103 minutes) is rated PG for a traumatic accident that may disturb the prepubescent crowd, and for nauseatingly sweet amounts of the blonde that is Duff.
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