Review: Material Girls
Walking into see Material Girls, I couldn't help but think about that puerile but sort of biting Pink song, "Stupid Girls." While the tune itself is pretty dopey, its intent as social commentary on this trend in pop culture for young women to market their sexuality, rather than any other attribute like their smarts, kindness or verve, is quite spot on. "What happened to the dreams of a girl president/ She's dancing in the video next to 50 Cent." While Pink didn't dress up as teen poptart Hilary Duff in her accompanying music video for this song, the rouge one's critique of that vapidity rings pretty true for this new movie of Hil's, which also co-stars her older sister, Haylie. In it, Hilary and Haylie plays heiress socialite sisters who lose their cosmetic fortunes when a scandal breaks.
While I never watched a lot of Hilary's Disney pre-teen TV show, Lizzie McGuire, I did like the concept of her character, a smart, socially awkward girl who doesn't get how totally adorable she actually is. Hilary really sold me on being that type of cool, admirable young chick. But unfortunately, her noticeable weight loss as she's entered adulthood has corresponded directly with her equal loss in gravitas, believability and even likability. This movie was so bad and Hilary so bad in it, I literally wanted to gauge my eyes out. It's lucky I didn't have anything sharp in my handbag while watching this movie because I really might have done myself bodily harm. Seriously.
Hilary has little charisma here and her sister even less. Even though they are sisters in real life, their relationship on screen felt forced and awkwardly constructed. Also, for a pre-teen movie about Los Angeles socialites, their clothes were remarkably ugly. Why is it lately that movies which seem to be so much about fashion can not seem to dress their stars in clothes that are both trendy and flattering? In one scene Hilary goes to a fancy party wearing a silk slip, a shrug and a newsboy cap. The slip she was actually wearing as a nightgown in the scene prior and besides, shrugs and newsie hats are so 2003 I could barely contain myself. Even Patricia Field wouldn't stoop so low.
The rest of the movie is hardly less contrived than this seemingly minor quibble. There was nary an aspect of it that I could compliment. The plot pay off feels like a bad episode of Scooby Do, the production design looks like it cost about 47 cents and gawky, skeevy Lukas Haas is the least likely romantic foil for Haylie than you could ever imagine. When those two were on screen together their chemistry was so stilted, I wanted to crawl under my seat to die. I can only hope that the reason why the inimitable Anjelica Huston agreed to appear in this flick as Hil and Hay's sort of nemesis was a life threatening financial crisis. Otherwise this level of slumming on her part, in what was probably the worst movie I've seen this summer, would be criminal.