Terri Fletcher (Duff), a hometown kinda girl, is a talented teen insofar as she has a gift when it comes to singing. She's applied to go to an academy for performing arts in Los Angeles, but tragedy strikes when, one night after going to a concert with her brother, they are involved in a car crash of which her brother suffers fatal injuries. She vows never to sing again, trashing the letter of acceptance in the rubbish, but her mother and sister manage to convince her otherwise. However, her father is incredibly controlling and won't let her go, so a lie is concocted where she's apparently gone to her sisters, but in reality she goes to the academy. Initially feeling somewhat like a fish out of water, she has to become more accustomed to her new environment as well as manage to keep the lie alive that she's convinced her father over.Academy for performing arts? Doesn't that sound familiar? Or should I say Fame-iliar? Well it's not the biggest crime in the world, I'm sure there's been other programmes and movies based on this environment. It's biggest problem? Well, since you're asking, I'm torn between two actually. The first is that it's so saccharine sweet, it's sickly. It's got a character who is a little bitchy, but it's not exactly a “Wicked Witch” type nasty (and we are talking about the nearest thing to a villain here). It's more an annoyance, bordering on peripheral, so there's nothing acting as a counterpoint - even the controlling father sub-plot isn't shadowing the proceedings. It's very much a case of predictability without any risk of derailing the limited, basic premise. The second problem, which may well just be me, is the amount of religious overtones within. From crucifixes to choirs, it is really prevalent. I'm no expert of Hilary Duff, but on the basis of the trailer, I'd assume she's the poster girl for “Good ol' Christian values”. Now I'm not complaining about religion - I'm complaining about the usage of it. If you don't follow religion, it's very unsettling to see it more in your face than product placement (of which it's minimal here) - so is the product placement ultimately faith in Christianity? Hmmmm - I'm not going there but rest assured, if it weren't heavily apparent, I wouldn't even mention it. Also one more thing for film makers out there - if you're trying to convince the viewer that characters have gone to a concert, make sure it looks like a concert, rather than a big room, with around 100 or so people present. Also make sure we can't see the back of the room or the fact that the “crowd” is only about 4 or 5 persons deep. Movies are about illusion, sure, but c'mon now.
It's an easy going movie, it really isn't going to engage your brain at all whatsoever, but if you manage to last the movie without wishing laryngitis on Duff, you're a better person than I, as I found her voice, both singing and spoken, highly irritating. Compared to say, Joey Lauren Adams (whose voice is cutesy), Duff's is particularly cutesy but rather high pitched, to the point I was looking for dogs to come running. Anyway, suffice to say, this movie is going to appeal to teenage girls whom may not like to engage too many neurons, rather than anyone else (with taste). Raise Your Voice? Ms. Duff, I'd really rather you didn't speak at all.
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