RAISE YOUR VOICE (Sean McNamara, 2004)
Hilary Duff plays an aspiring singer at a performing arts school in RAISE YOUR VOICE. Duff is Terri Fletcher, a bubbly Flagstaff, Arizona high school student who earns admission to a competitive summer music program. Overprotective dad fears for her safety in Los Angeles and refuses to let her go. Terri’s mom and aunt decide that it’s important she attend, so they concoct a story that will get her to the school while keeping her father in the dark.
Hilary Duff’s persistently sunny disposition makes her a likable movie presence, but I’ve yet to see anything from her that demonstrates much beyond a “let’s put on a show” high school drama club enthusiasm. Duff’s as squeaky clean as anyone since Sandra Dee. RAISE YOUR VOICE even makes her character’s prominent but non-discussed Christianity a valuable quality. While Duff’s perky, go-getter attitude is appreciated, her effort is mostly wasted in a watered down FAME retread. The pop songs, like every element in RAISE YOUR VOICE, are vanilla and instantly forgettable. It doesn’t help that Duff lacks the musical chops for the limited classical repertoire in the film. I suspect that someone else is singing for her in those scenes or that the vocals have been so highly processed to eliminate any trace of her voice. RAISE YOUR VOICE also could have done without Terri’s cartoonishly priggish, toothpick chomping father, who serves as the film’s dramatic engine.
(Review first aired on the October 12, 2004 NOW PLAYING)