Raise Your Voice

on October 08, 2004 by Tim Cogshell
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Terri Fletcher ("A Cinderella Story's" Hilary Duff) is a small-town girl who's devastated by the loss of her brother in a car accident. The incident leaves Terri shaken and her father (David Keith) even more overprotective and thus unwilling to allow Terri to attend a prestigious music conservatory in the Big City (Los Angeles). But with the help of her mother (Rita Wilson) and artsy aunt (Rebecca De Mornay), Terri manages to sneak away under false pretenses and experience that all-important life-changing summer wherein she must struggle to deal with tragedy and find her own voice--literally. If it weren't such a crippling cliché it might be moving, but it is insanely trite and not poignant at all; worse, it's unintentionally funny.

From the pro-forma set of characters Terri meets at the conservatory to her decidedly bland love interest Jay (Oliver James of "What a Girl Wants") to the music teacher who can see her talent (John Corbett of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding") to the nasty rival whom Terri displaces as the school's First Voice, everything about "Raise Your Voice" is a cliché from the '80s. Stealing from "Fame" and "Footloose" is bad enough on an artistic level, but it's even more egregious given that neither were actually very good movies; they're only remembered fondly because they were a part of the era's zeitgeist. "Raise Your Voice's" backslide into the last generation makes it largely out-of-date, especially when compared to contemporary teen comedies like "Mean Girls" or "The Girl Next Door," both of which are sharper movies that connect to today's youth issues with real edge and attitude, making "Raise Your Voice" look all the more like a silly sing-a-long. Starring Hilary Duff, Oliver James, Dana Davis and John Corbett. Directed by Sean McNamara. Written by Sam Schreiber. Produced by David Brookwell, A.J. Dix, Sean McNamara, Anthony Rhulen, Sara Risher and William Shively. A New Line release. Drama/Romance/Musical. Rated PG for thematic elements and language. Running time: 106 min

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