After graduation, Lizzie McGuire (Hilary Duff) and school pals Gordo (Adam Lamberg), Ethan (Clayton Snyder) and Kate (Ashlie Brillault) head off for two weeks in Rome as part of a class excursion under the watchful eye of Miss Ungermeyer (Alex Borstein). On arrival, Lizzie is mistaken for pop star Isabella, of Italian pop duo sensation Paolo (Yani Gellman) and Isabella. Eager for adventure, Lizzie secretly hits the sights of Rome on the back of Paolo’s motorcycle and is overwhelmed by the attention. Then Paolo asks Lizzie to step into Isabella’s shoes at the televised music awards and all her dreams seem to have come true… except that her parents are on their way to Rome and best friend Gordo is beginning to mind – terribly.
Review by Louise Keller:
A fresh and fabulous Cinderella fantasy, Lizzie McGuire is a delightful charmer about a young girl who dreams of being a pop star. It’s also a story about dreams, self-esteem and the flutter of young love, set on a dazzling backdrop of bella Roma.
In case you don’t know, Lizzie is the star of one of the hottest shows on cable television for girls aged between 6 and 16 and is to today’s audience what Gidget was to the 60s generation.
An animated version of Lizzie is cleverly integrated with the live action to represent Lizzie’s thoughts, and when we first meet her in her bedroom, she is singing along to her favourite songs, clutching her hairbrush microphone, dancing and prancing in front of the mirror dreaming of the success she aspires to be. But she is not so self assured when it comes to school and making speeches, and after she makes a total fool of herself at graduation, her kid brother makes things even worse by sending a taped video to the local TV station! How embarrassing!
Luckily it’s time for the school excursion to Italy and once she has prised herself from her mother’s overtight hug, she and her best friend Gordo are intent on having the time of their lives. Of course she is not the ugly duckling the script suggests she should be, and fortunately the filmmakers haven’t subjected us to a physical ‘transformation’ as in The Princess Diaries. But once the fairy tale is underway, there’s plenty to be uplifted by including a frivolous shopping sequence (think Pretty Woman) in which Lizzie is given the make-over by Paolo’s designer. The frocks have electric lights, are inflatable and in one amusing sequence, a wrap around dress is unravelled when a frisky pet goes berserk. ‘I’m ready for my close up, Mr De Milne,’ says Lizzie’s cartoon ego, as the evening draws near for the music awards. It is surprisingly easy to believe in Lizzie and that she can do absolutely anything – even sing and dance in front of thousands of people.
Hilary Duff is gorgeous in the title role: she is one highly talented fifteen year old with an infectious presence, loads of charisma and great comedic timing. And she can sing. (Britney Who?) The storyline takes an unexpected twist just before the anticipated performance, and what happens on stage is for you to discover when you see the film. Of course Lizzie realises the value of her friendship with Gordo and all’s well that ends well. Alex Borstein is a scene-stealer as the five foot nothing Miss Ungermeyer, who bosses everyone around, including Paolo’s big, burly bodyguard.
It’s funny, bright and totally enchanting. If you believe in fairy tales, don’t miss Lizzie McGuire.
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Favourable: 1 (Louise)
LIZZIE MCGUIRE (G)
CAST: Hilary Duff, Adam Lamberg, Robert Carradine, Hallie Todd, Jake Thomas, Ashlie Brillault, Yani Gellman, Alex Borstein, Clayton Snyder, Brendan Kelly, Carly Schroeder, Daniel Escobar
PRODUCER: Stan Rogow
DIRECTOR: Jim Fall
SCRIPT: Susan Estelle Jansen, Ed Decter, John J. Strauss
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jerzy Zielinski
EDITOR: Margaret Goodspeed
MUSIC: Cliff Eidelman
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Douglas Higgins
RUNNING TIME: 94 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: BVI
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Tasmania – May 29, 2003; Vic/Qld – June 26, 2003; NSW/SA – July 3, 2003
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: BVHE
VIDEO RELEASE: December 10, 2003