A review of “The Lizzie McGuire Movie” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: **

Rating: PG for tame adolescent elements

Run Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

 

 

There’s no denying that teen sensation Hilary Duff has presence.  Her Disney Channel TV show is an iron-clad adolescent hit, and her megawatt smile is exceptionally winning.  But even the most captivating visage can’t save this teeny-bopper romp from wallowing in superficial charm.

In true teen-movie fashion, new middle-school graduate Lizzie is taking the trip of her young lifetime, a class sojourn to Rome.  Her Italian idyll, dampened by whip-cracking school principal Miss Ungermeyer (a deliciously over-the-top Alex Borstein), is made palatable due to a chance meeting with the delectable Paolo (Yani Gellman), a dreamy popster who exudes loads of la dolce vita.  Quick as a “ciao bella”, Lizzie is in love, and smack in the middle of a case of mistaken identity pitting her against Paolo’s pop-duo partner and uncanny look-alike Isabella (Duff again).

In addition to asking for her heart, Paolo needs Lizzie’s help to pull off a difficult impersonation at an important musical awards show. Meanwhile, travel buddy and quintessential boy next door Gordo (Adam Lamberg) is testing the waters of his feelings for Lizzie, culminating in discombobulated adolescent heartache. Can Lizzie dupe Paolo’s swooning fans? Will true love reign supreme?

Duff’s onscreen personality is thoroughly engaging, but I find it difficult to envision her as anything but a calculated representation of a multi-million dollar cottage industry, a single suburban version of the Olsen twins or a more wholesome Britney Spears.  Her movie is a vapid expression of contemporary adolescence, carried on the wings of Duff’s abundant charisma.  Weak scripting and amateurish camerawork scream lowest common denominator. “Lizzie” fans will not be disappointed, but I wanted more.