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:: Raise Your Voice

Somebody should put a hit out on the people that made Raise Your Voice – an irritating melange of “disease of the week” telemovie and B-grade Fame tribute, seasoned with a dash of Sweet Valley High.

Although Hilary Duff is charismatic, and does the sweet blonde rocker moppet shtick well, it’s getting tired. In Raise Your Voice, she plays the seriously wimpy Teri, who sneaks off to music summer camp with the help of her aunt (Rebecca De Mornay – looking uncannily like a trucker’s moll) while grieving the death of her brother. Unfortunately for both Teri and the audience, she flashes back to that fatal night every time a light’s shone in her face.

After a sudsy opener featuring comas, car accidents and declarations of love, Teri and the audience finally escape to the exclusive Bristol Hillman Music Conservatory in LA. Scriptwriter X has a half-hearted stab at introducing other characters, including insta-boyfriend A (x), freaky Goth piano player z, zany DJ P, and hard-workin’ black violinist C. Although they’re meant to provide a backdrop to Duff and her constantly trembling lower lip, they overshadow her musically. There’s no place for mediocrity in a supposedly talented singer, not in a post-Idol milieu. It’s even worse when Teri faces up to the catty singers, led by popular girl F (). To make Duff’s thin and breathy voice sound good, these girls have to be seriously ordinary. Raise Your Voice needed an exceptional singer such as Emmy Rossum (Phantom of the Opera) in the lead role to have even a chance of working. Even then the script would need major revision.

But wait, there’s more. If you’re a fan of Richard Clayderman, wallow in the sentimental incidental music. Perhaps you’d like to see music ‘experts’ stunned by Ms Duff’s underwhelming talent. Or John Corbett add another turkey to his resume. Even the grainy file footage used as establishing shots for LA might be worth a laugh…or grimace. As for clichés: it’s terrifying how many director CP manages to fit in. It’s Glitter for the tween brigade; an insult to the intelligence; a must-avoid. But what a shame, because Raise Your Voice had the potential to be a guilty pleasure. If you must Duff tonight, A Cinderella Story is watchable. Otherwise hit the 80s shelf and indulge in classics like Fame and Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.

Raise Your Voice is now screening on general release