In terms of 'tweener movies, the best one can say about Aquamarine is that girls can do worse. It doesn't help that for every Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, there is a Sleepover, New York Minute, or any movie with Hilary Duff. It may help that Aquamarine and Sisterhood are both adaptations of novels (Aquamarine by Alice Hoffman), allowing for source material that is more substantive than just a script. The other required elements are all here: girly bonding, lots of giggling, a montage where the stars try on clothes, and a cute guy. But because Aquamarine roots itself in an actual issue, it does have more lasting power than the other fleeting movies.

The issue that director Elizabeth Allen deals with is the impending separation of two best friends, Hailey (Joanna "JoJo" Levesque) and Claire (Emma Roberts, Grand Champion, Blow). The two are best friends, and it's their last summer together. Hailey's mother is moving to Australia for a job, and the two are devastated. The other kids around them are older, and a bit meaner. Separation means losing a best friend, and going to potentially traumatic experiences (school, new friends) alone. Everything changes when a storm literally washes a mermaid into their pool. Aquamarine (Sara Paxton, Sleepover, Durango Kids) has three days to prove that love exists. She needs to have somebody fall in love with her, or else her father will force her to marry somebody else. Oh, and because Hailey and Claire helped her, they get one wish.

The two girls set out to help "Aqua" fall in love, so they can wish to stay together. Aqua sets her sights on Raymond (Jake McDorman), the hunky lifeguard. Claire and Hailey set aside their chaste crush on him to help her, and in turn, get their wish. Opposing them is Cecilia (Arielle Kebbel, The Kid & I, Dirty Deeds), the popular girl who also has a crush on Raymond. Okay, so there's nothing really original about Jessica Bendinger (First Daughter, The Truth About Charlie) and John Quaintance's screenplay, but that's not the point. The target audience doesn't really care that this is the same story they've seen many times before. All they know is that they are seeing some of their favorite actors/singers on screen doing girly things and that's enough for them. This movie is fun for them, and minimally obnoxious for everybody else. The fact that it does aspire for something more is commendable, but aspiring and doing are two different things.

Haro Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 49 minutes, Rated PG for mild language and sensuality.

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