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Toon Talk: The Lizzle McGuire Movie
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Disney Film & Video Reviews by Kirby C. Holt
The Lizzle McGuire Movie
From Annette Funicello and Hayley Mills to Lindsay Lohan and Anne Hathaway, Disney has always had a keen grasp on casting fresh-faced young talent for their innocent girl-next-door romps, and Hilary Duff, the star of the Disney Channel series Lizzie McGuire, is no exception. Duff has the charm and personality that makes every â€˜tween' fan feel like she could be her best friend, and that's a good quality for any young rising star.
On the air since 2001, the Lizzie McGuire series was a simple show about a young girl's life at home (with her typically clueless parents and bratty younger brother) and in school (with her close-knit, ethnically diverse clique of friends). What set Lizzie apart from other Saved By the Bell wannabes was Duff's goofy physical comedy (this girl isn't afraid to fall flat on her pretty face for a laugh) and her animated â€˜inner selfâ€˜, a Mini Lizzie who would chime in her own sarcastic commentary on each particular episode's goings-on. The series had a good, well-rated run until its abrupt end of production last year after 65 episodes (at that number, its easier and cheaper for the studio to just air re-runs then produce new episodes), but viewers didn't have to wait long for their heroine to make the leap to the big screen with The Lizzie McGuire Movie, now in theaters.
Serving as an after-the-fact â€˜series finale' episode, the Movie finds Lizzie, fresh from graduating middle school, jet-setting to Italy for a school trip (any resemblance to Gidget Goes to Rome, or even The Facts of Life Goes to Paris, most likely not coincidental). Even under the watch of chaperone Miss Ungermeyer (Mad TV's Alex Borstein, in a cured ham of a performance), Lizzie manages to catch the eye and the fancy of dreamy Euro-pop star Paolo (Yani Gellman), who charms Lizzie into to playing hooky and scootering off with him on their own pubescent, appropriately platonic, Roman holiday.
Under the direction of Jim Fall (whose only other feature film to date is the exact polar opposite of this film, the unmistakably adult gay comedy Trick), its all painless yet predictable fluff, with the usual travelogue views of the Eternal City and an â€˜ain't European fashion wacky' make-over montage, with plenty of "that's-a one-a spicy meatballâ€? Italian accents thrown in for good measure.