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Raise Your Voice (2004)

Dont hold back. Dont give up.

Rating: 2/10

Running Time: 103 minutes

US Certificate: PG UK Certificate: PG

The on-screen appearance of the opening titles “A Chick Flicks Production” and “starring Hilary Duff” should probably be enough for the average cinema-goer to instantly suss who this film’s target audience are. Yup, that’s right: tweenie girlies.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course – there should always be movies made to appeal to all sections, sexes, and age groups of that great big clusterfuck we call society. But why, oh why, oh why does this particular genre of film always need to be so predictable, so formulaic, and so disappointing? I appreciate that, as a twenty-something male, ‘Raise Your Voice’ isn’t aimed at me, but that doesn’t mean I can’t categorically state, without feeling the slightest smattering of guilt, that this movie is a load of old pony.

Duffers plays music-loving goodie-goodie Terri Fletcher. Her annoyingly over-protective dad (David Keith, a Lee Majors look-a-like if ever there was one) puts his foot down for no apparent reason when she tells him she’s desperate to take her questionable talent to a top Los Angeles music camp for the summer. And things don’t look any brighter for her when brother Paul (Jason Ritter) snuffs it in a car accident while on his way home from a power-rock concert. In fact, poor Terri is so shaken by events that she vows never to sing again. Every cloud, and all that.

Her abstinence from warbling doesn’t last long though, as within a few scenes she’s tricked Dad into thinking she’s going to spend the summer hols visiting her auntie (Rebecca De Mornay) in Palm Desert, when in actual fact she’s off to LA to try for the big scholarship. Once there, she meets the great and the good of America’s up-and-coming muzoes, including generic class bitch Robin (Lauren C. Mayhew), stand-offish fiddle-whizz Denise (Dana Davis) and dreamy Mockney love interest Jay (Oliver James). They all argue for a bit, there’s a very small smattering of PG-friendly snogging, some new friends are made, we get the predictable end-of-film big music number, everyone smiles, and – finally – we all go home, safe in the knowledge that within seconds of leaving the theatre we’ll have forgotten every last second of it.

‘Raise Your Voice’ is a film so harmless, squeaky clean and morally water-tight that I actually started to find the whole thing a little sinister. The Duffster is always easy to watch, but she’s yet to choose a project with any bite, and this is one reviewer who’s already sick to the back teeth of seeing her basically play herself in everything she does. I know she has her reputation for being sweet-as-a-tiny-kitten-dipped-in-treacle to consider, but I really do wonder if she ever plans to do anything a bit different. Come to think of it, it’s a problem that seems to be contagious, as co-star James appears to be playing exactly the same character as he did in the suicide-inducingly bad What A Girl Wants, and ditto John Corbett, who’s kindly, desperate-to-be-cool teacher is a mirror image of the bloke he played in Raising Helen.

This is a poor, uninspiring and massively unoriginal tale, pain-stakingly put together with the sole purpose of creating a sterile and completely unrealistic representation of teen life. Even the music is shabby, and reminded me of another duff Duff project – The Lizzie Mcguire Movie – in that whenever a single note was struck it felt instantly as if I was watching an extended advertisement for the chart ambitions of America’s safest teen popstrel. The only difference is, Hilary Duff music videos generally feature better plots, such as the one for her single ‘So Yesterday’, in which she steals a man’s t-shirt and then posts him photographs of it being worn by complete strangers. Now THAT would make a good movie.

It's Got: James Avery. You’ll know him best as the dad from ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’, although a fantastic little bit of trivia is that he was also the voice of Shredder in the ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ cartoons.

It Needs: To be completely different in every department.


If you are going to “raise your voice” whilst watching this film, might I suggest using the words “this is crap”? For added effect, you might like to accompany that action with lobbing bricks at the screen.