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Material Girls (2006)

Its A Short Trip From The Penthouse To The Poorhouse.

Directed by:

Martha Coolidge

Rating: 2/10

Running Time: 97 minutes

US Certificate: PG

Country: United States

When celebutant heiresses, Ava (Haylie Duff) and Tanzie (Hilary Duff) Marchetta find out that their deceased father’s cosmetics company is sinking, the girls’ material world disintegrates like the mansion they accidentally ignite. Renounced by the young Hollywood set, the Marchetta sisters seek refuge at the modest walkup apartment (in Jimmy Choos, no less!) of former family maid, Inez (Maria Conchita Alonso). However, the biggest challenge becomes thwarting Fabiella (Angelica Huston), their father’s make-up arch rival, and her curiously possible corporate takeover. Thanks to the help of “hottie” chemist Rick (Marcus Coloma) who the girls mistake for a valet, and Henry Baines (Lucas Haas), a “Men’s Wearhouse” pro bono attorney, the girls set out to achieve the implausible.

It is hard to say what demographic this movie is geared towards. Although costuming and dialogue are mostly consistent with lifestyle icons like the Hiltons, or Olson twins, the film makes many inappropriate choices for a “Tween” audience. Inez, the Hispanic maid, explains that post 9/11 immigration laws prevent her daughters from emigrating. A “weird” situation is judged on a “Courtney Love” scale, and Tanzie warns Ava that people “pee” on bus seats. Tanzie also lands in jail when she attempts to mirror the Julia Roberts’ Erin Brokovitch namesake and dons a bustier to seduce a man for access to a file room. In jail, she fends off advances by cellmates, and then uses sand caught between one of the convicts toes to teach the women about exfoliation. In awe of the girls, a Marchetta intern (Reagan Dale Nies) changes her nose to mirror Tanzie’s and her hair to look like Ava’s. The message is that to be wealthy and beautiful, you must become someone else.

The one laudable performance in this carb-conscious film comes from Angelica Huston. In Fabiella’s brief scenes, she establishes herself as a wannabe international scion, uttering whimsies in Spanish, French, and German. When delighting the Marchetta girls and their slippery advisor (Brent Spiner) to a spa day she appears dressed in something out of Joan Collins’ wardrobe.

The riches-to-rags-to riches Duff powder puff concludes with the Marchetta moguls in love and changing the world, one affordable cosmetic at a time, but the only chemistry here is in the make-up lab. Material Girls lacks…material.

It's Got: Great clothing, Angelica Huston, and an unfortunate amount of stereotyping.

It Needs: Better dialogue and believable acting.

Alternatives:

A Cinderella Story (2004), Agent Cody Banks (2003), Cheaper by the Dozen (2003), Cheaper by the Dozen 2 (2005), New York Minute (2004), Raise Your Voice (2004), The Lizzie McGuire Movie (2003), The Perfect Man (2005)

Summary

The Marchetta sisters must rise to the challenge of saving their deceased father’s cosmetics empire, the family reputation, and their own inheritance.

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