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The Lizzy McGuire Movie

Starring Hilary Duff
Screenplay by Susan Estelle Jansen and Ed Decter & John J. Strauss
Based on characters created by Terri Minsky
Directed by Jim Fall

IN SHORT: Strictly for fans of the teevee show. [Rated PG for Mild Thematic Elements. 105 minutes]

The President has the ebola virus, "or something." The Vice-President has flunked out of eighth grade, leaving the hapless and speechless (in both senses of the word) Lizzie McGuire (Hilary Duff) to deliver the graduation speech at the [Never Named Because Kidlets Know It From The TV Series] middle school. Lizzie is not only terrified of speaking in front of an audience,she's also a klutz in an old dress and therefore prone to falling down at inopportune moments.

For adults out there who, like Cranky, fell down when it came to reproducing, we calculate the Graduation Event to be the end of the 9th Grade, or what used to be the end of junior high school back in the days of disco.

Because Lizzie lives in a community that has far too much money for its own good, the graduating class packs itself up for a two week trip to Rome, Italy (as opposed to Rome, New York, which would be economically more viable but less visually stimulating unless you know your way around the town). There, Lizzie is swept off her feet by singing sensation Paolo (Yani Gellman) and finds herself up to his Armani's in a hair-brained scheme to pass her off as his missing-in-action singing partner, the looks-just-like-Lizzie-except-for-the-hair Isabella (Hilary Duff in a black wig).

Yep, all the fourteen years old, or less, fans of TV's Lizzie McGuire show, too young to know the similar shtick from Dickens or Twain or Shakespeare or The Patty Duke Show will plant and cheer for The Lizzie McGuire Movie 'cuz they already know all the background the film doesn't bother to provide for us old fart critics. It's not hard for us to fathom the gimmick. All the supporting bits -- younger brother Matt (Jake Thomas) who lives to make her life miserable; femme classmate Kate (Ashlie Brillault), who can't stand that Lizzie gets all the attention that she rightfully deserves; classmate David "Gordo" Gordon (Adam Lamberg) who unknowingly pines for his bestest friend in the world; clueless but loving parents Sam (Robert Carradine) and Jo (Hallie Todd); and overbearing chaperone Miss Ungermeyer (Alex Borstein of MadTV)-- are all totally been there done that for those of us old enough to legally drink.

But we're not the audience for this thing. When the star gets more screentime than all of the sites of Rome combined, then you know a cookie cutter movie before you plant the kids. There's nothing in this "film" that couldn't have fit into a trio of teevee shows, except for the fact that the three acts of this thing contain all of two stories. One at the beginning. One at the end. A lot of big screen close ups of Ms. Duff in between. From the parental point of view, it's refreshing to find a film filled with fifteen year olds that seem to have no conception of, or much interest in, anything physical. It may not be realistic -- there've been enough Dateline and/or 20/20 and/or other newsmagazine stories about teenage yee hah to confirm that nothing has changed since we were teens -- but it provides a worry free parking space for preteens and kids already primed by the Disney Channel television program. Beyond that audience Lizzie McGuire is a mis hit. With such a limited target, as with kidletflicks that will get all their play at home, there's no point in putting the usual dollar rating.

We didn't think much of it, but we would have planted the kids and taken a seat in the back row, so they could feel special and grown up. Us old farts understand that aspect of it well.

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