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The Lizzie McGuire Movie

  • compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2003 1 Jan
The Lizzie McGuire Movie

from Film Forum, 05/08/03

Junior high student Lizzie McQuire (Agent Cody Banks' Hilary Duff) is cute, but she's also a klutz. Her spectacular pratfalls have made her famous at school. In Rome, however, a different sort of fame awaits. While enjoying a class trip, Lizzie is mistaken for an Italian pop star named Isabella. The resemblance is convincing enough to charm Isabella's former pop partner Paolo (Yani Gellman), and the case of mistaken identity turns into a date. Comedy zaniness ensues as Lizzie, infatuated with her admirer, slips away from the watchful eyes of her strict supervisor (MadTV comedienne Alex Borstein). Before long, she is training to stand in for Isabella at the International MTV Music Awards. Somewhere along the way, she learns lessons about confidence and true friendship.

"The photogenic Ms. Duff has personality to spare," says Michael Elliott (Movie Parables). "Time will tell if she will develop depth as an actress." The movie, he says, "presents a Disneyfied view of life. It is as sugary sweet and sanitized as the Magic Kingdom itself. But despite this, there are still elements of the film which can be utilized to illustrate biblical truths."

David DiCerto (Catholic News Service) is not so impressed: "Sure, Duff is adorable. Sure, the film stresses the importance of friendship. But the contrived narrative is so threadbare that midway through, the film begins to feel like one long Vespa ride played against a grating cotton-candy soundtrack, with breaks just long enough for Duff to change outfits."

Movieguide's critic calls it "a fun adventure fantasy that teenagers everywhere will enjoy. It is almost completely devoid of foul language, violence, sex, and nudity, but it does carry the theme that ordinary kids can be famous if greatness is thrust upon them. Though not a heavy-handed or preachy theme, Christian viewers might want to discuss the Bible's warnings about the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life. The 3 Gs—gold, glory, and guys/gals—can be fleeting pursuits that drive children off the godly tracks of servant leadership and kingdom-mindedness."

The critic does offer further cautions about the film being "a bit soft on deceit" and including a brief scene involving "an effeminate principal."

Holly McClure (Crosswalk) writes, "I didn't think I would enjoy the premise of this movie as much as I did but I have to admit, it kept my attention and made me laugh. This is a lighthearted, enjoy-your-popcorn-with-your-children movie … and the sites of Rome make it delightful for adults."

Loren Eaton (Focus on the Family) says, "Positive takes on friendship, loyalty, parental love, honesty and the need to overcome fear get lots of screen time. The downsides differ only slightly from those seen on TV: occasionally immodest dress, plot points that skew a bit too mature for those 'younger siblings,' loose uses of God's name and a few harsh putdowns. Lizzie's not perfect. But she offers mountains of light-hearted fun heavily infused with positive messages young audiences desperately need to hear."

Mainstream critics debate whether the movie is endearing or annoying. Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times) says the movie "celebrates popularity, beauty, great hair, lip gloss and overnight stardom, those universal obsessions of pop teenage culture. Lizzie … has never had a real idea in her silly little head, and in the real world, her sunny naiveté is going to lead to crushing disappointments."

Parents might do well to heed Ebert's next observation: "As a role model, Lizzie functions essentially as a spokeswoman for the teen retail fashion industry, and the most-quoted line in the movie is likely to be when the catty Kate accuses her of being an 'outfit repeater.' Since many of the kids in the audience will not be millionaires and do indeed wear the same outfit more than once, this is a little cruel, but there you go."