Daddy Day Care

Hilary Duff and Yani Gellman.
Directed by Jim Fall.
Running Time: 90 mins
Rated: PG

Lizzie McGuire (Duff) is a socially awkward 17 year old. When she embarrasses everyone by blowing a speech on school assembly, she thinks life is over. To regain her confidence, she decides to go on a school trip to Rome, led by the new school principal Miss Ungermeyer (Alex Borstein). At the Trevi Fountain Lizzie runs into the Italian pop sensation Paolo, who convinces her that she is a double for his former singing partner Isabella. Paolo and Isabella were meant to perform at the Italian pop music awards ceremony. He prevails on Lizzie to stand in for the absent diva.

The theme song to this film is entitled, "This is what dreams are made of.' We hear it four times. Lizzie's story is the dream of many adolescent girls: being discovered by a handsome boy who transforms her into a pop princess.

The problem is that except for the fairytale story, the filmmakers do not adequately look after the needs of their target audience. In some shots there is night/day confusion, clumsy direction and awkward blocking. The final Coliseum scene looks great initially, but ends up a mess as the director cuts between studio medium shots of Lizzie and live shots of a stadium concert at the Coliseum. Sloppy work. The product placement is so blatant that you shouldn't be surprised to discover that your teenage daughter thinks Lufthansa is 'the' airline to go on.

Hilary Duff is sweet as Lizzie/Isabella, but Yani Gellman's Paolo is poorly rendered. Alex Borstein as the fascist chaperone provides most of the laughs.

True to form in a teen flick, most of the adults in The Lizzie McGuire Movie are either idiots or controls freaks. The only innovation in the screenplay is that prince charming gets his comeuppance at the hands of girl power.

This film is strictly for twelve-year-old girls, or anyone who would like to remember.

Fr Richard Leonard SJ is the Director of the Australian Catholic Film Office.

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