The Lizzie Maguire Movie

The Lizzie Maguire Movie comes prepackaged with thousands of prepubescent female fans of the Disney Channel television show. It's good it comes with fans, because the movie itself is not much to watch. It comes out a month after What a Girl Wants, a movie with eerily similar themes and plots. There, it was the daughter of a Lord in England, this time, it is the look-alike of an international pop star in Italy. And in a wonderful instance of serendipity, or a crass case of corporate synergy, star Hilary Duff (Agent Cody Banks, Human Nature) just happens to have songs on the soundtrack. This is an even bigger stretch of the Cinderella myth than What a Girl Wants, and stretches credulity a little too far, if that makes any sense.

Still, one cannot deny that Duff has a lot of charisma. If only the script by Susan Estelle Jansen, and Ed Decter and John J. Strauss (The Santa Clause 2, Head Over Heels) used Duff in a more meaningful manner. What the audience gets here is the awkward girl who is nervous in public and tends to trip a lot. Duff resorts to lots of cute grimacing and "oops!" type comments. It gets old quickly, even for somebody as appealing as Duff. This is nothing more than an extremely shallow extension of the television series. Now, Lizzie is finished with Junior High, and what better way to celebrate than a trip to Rome with her classmates and future principal, the despotic Ms. Ungermeyer (Alex Borstein, Showtime, Coyote Ugly).

In Rome, she meets Paolo (Yani Gellman, Jason X, Urban Legends: Final Cut), an international superstar. It seems that Lizzie looks exactly like his partner Isabella. The two broke up, and Paolo wants Lizzie to fill in for Isabella at an awards show. This means that Lizzie needs to overcome her shyness and penchant for falling and learn to sing. That, and Paolo is really cute. Lizzie's friend Gordo (Adam Lamberg, Max Keeble's Big Move, The Pirates of Central Park) is her platonic friend, but obviously has deeper feelings for Lizzie that she is completely oblivious too. So Lizzie, with Gordo's help, has to continually figure out how to outwit Ungermeyer so she can hang out with Paolo.

Little girls will love this movie because director Jim Fall (Trick) tailor made the movie to them, much to the dismay of everybody else. There are plenty of musical interludes with Duff singing, or montages with her trying on different clothes. All of the characters are shallow, the jokes are dumb, and the story moves quickly from scene to scene. Everything is completely predictable, and the filmmakers made no attempt to not have things this way. The Lizzie Maguire Movie is the type of film fans will like, then when they revisit it about a decade later will scratch their heads in wonderment as to what exactly attracted them to the film in the first place. The one big question is where Lizzie Maguire as a character can go from here. Part of the series' popularity was its ability to identify with its demographic. The movie fulfills the promise of enlarging the story to fit the big screen, but now runs the risk of losing the down-to-earth charm that attracted people to it in the first place.

Haro Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 30 minutes, Rated PG for mild thematic elements.

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