Raise Your Voice
2004, PG, 100 min. Directed by Sean McNamara. Starring Hilary Duff, Oliver James, Rita Wilson, David Keith, Rebecca de Mornay, Jason Ritter, John Corbett.
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Oct. 15, 2004
There’s a lot of talent on display at the prestigious Los Angeles music academy that Flagstaff teen Terri Fletcher (Duff) attends for a summer session. Unfortunately, little of that talent belongs to leading lady Hilary Duff, whose presence here seems more manufactured than ever, from her bottle-blond, lip-glossed face to her trendy togs and so-so studio-assisted voice. Some of the other kids at the academy display real talent – especially genre-hopping violin player Dana Davis – and during the stretches of boredom the movie generates, the viewer begins to speculate about how much more interesting the storylines for some of the other students might have proven. Raise Your Voice follows the conventional formula for movies about young artists in their formative high school years: emotional trouble at home, escape and the discovery of new mentors, struggle fitting in with the new-found art mob, one special romantic challenge, and, inevitably, the big end-of-semester show where all is reconciled and everyone basks in the recognition of a genuine talent that just can’t be repressed. Oh, would that it were so. Frankly, one’s sympathy sides more with the class bitch who thinks she has the better voice and deserves the choral solo instead of Terri. In your heart you know she’s right. This ain’t Fame. It will not live forever. It will be lucky to last a few weeks at the box office.