Comfortable and Furious

Raise Your Voice

Directed by Sean McNamara

Written by Mitch Rotter and Scott Schreiber

– Hilary Duff as Terri Fletcher
– Oliver James as Jay Corgan
– David Keith as Simon Fletcher
– Dana Davis as Denise Gilmore

Are you telling me that you openly and willingly rented a Hilary Duff movie? I thought you wanted her dead?

I was all set to press the button for Ice Cube’s Are We There Yet? when I was suddenly overtaken by the desire to see something that might actually make me mad rather than simply bore me into unconsciousness. This crap managed both. And I still want her dead.

Is she one of those “simple girls with big dreams” that seem to dominate chick flicks these days?

She’s Terri, an untalented, narcissistic twit who wants to make it big in the world of music, but can’t decide whether she should attend a summer music school or submit to her brother’s incestuous desires. He follows her around with a video camera (shooting mostly her tits), standing far too close to someone who shares his genes. He wants her to become a star, so he secretly sends in a tape, along with an essay testifying to her greatness. The audience, however, is never given any evidence supporting his beliefs.

So what happens to him? A messy suicide after ejaculating all over her sleeping face?

Nothing so virtuous. Instead, he’s killed in a car accident after he and Hilary sneak away to a rock concert. The band’s name is 3 Days Grace, which means that they’re one of those hardcore bands that can rock the house, but not so much that they don’t love Jesus. He dies miserably and in tremendous pain, but she lives on, more determined than ever to make something of herself. Still, before she can make millions of dollars from suckers who long ago traded away their good taste for mindless, numbing escapism, she must have a crisis of confidence, which involves an argument with dad, a tearful confession, and a few prayers in a nearby church. Unfortunately for us, she decides to head to L.A. and sing her little heart out.

Is there a “kooky aunt” who really understands the poor girl?

Played by none other than Rebecca DeMornay, who we know is one of the “good guys” because she’s an artist who constructs ugly, incomprehensible sculptures that will never, ever sell. And she wears thigh-high leather boots.

Sounds hot. As a girl from Flagstaff, Arizona, she must find Los Angeles shocking and scary, right?

There are few scenes as reliably groan-inducing as the “Welcome to L.A.” montage, which always involve a grinding beat, as well as our heroine staring from the window of a cab (or bus) as she passes panhandlers, hookers, and porn shops. Hell, she even has her jacket stolen at the train station! But she has the crucifix her brother gave her, so she’ll remain defiantly pure and goodhearted.

The school itself — your typical arts college?

Let’s run through the cast of characters: the nerd who longs for a woman out of his league, the moody chick who harbors a secret brilliance, the bitter rival who just might steal the heroine’s man, the British import who falls for our heroine because she’s so damned plucky, and of course, the sassy hottie who flirts with all the teachers. As for the staff, there’s the bearded hippie who becomes the most valuable mentor, the authoritarian Russian dude who ends up a softy, and yes, the hard-ass headmaster who runs the school with an iron hand because, well, tough-love works best. The only thing missing was the retarded janitor that lives in the boiler room who accidentally imparts life lessons because behind his drooling, snot-smeared smile lays the wisdom of the ancients.

About that tape the dead brother sent in: does it play a role later on?

Nothing big, really, except that the hippie teacher plays it for Hilary when she gets down and seeing her brother brings forth the waterworks and she runs down the hall screaming like an infant. She even starts packing, although her boyfriend convinces her to take a walk along the Santa Monica pier so that they can hold hands, talk about bubblegum and rainbows, and fall in love. The only other thing I remember about the scene is my wife (a Southern California native) shouting, “When did Santa Monica pier looked like that? Where are the fucking bums? The molester carnie workers? The Mexican sisters with 30 kids in tow?” That’s my girl.

So does Hilary finally hit that high note?

Uh, sure, I guess, although her singing is so bad that I’m not sure any notes could be extracted from the strangling-a-cat shrillness. But her character seems to think she has (as well as her teacher), so she takes that self-delusion all the way to the big competition for the coveted scholarship.

I have to ask: is there a mime sighting?

Strangely enough, yes. And in a flight from reality more dramatic than the entire Star Wars series, he’s actually embraced by the crowd witnessing his obnoxious antics.


What about Duff’s first stab at open mike night?

Come on…….

Does she blow it big time and run from the joint in tears?

Yes, but…….

And did she see her dead brother in the lights right before she fled?

Of course, although…….

And does she catch her new boyfriend kissing his ex-flame, which prompts another tearful run down the hall?

Obviously. But what does that have to do with…….

I was just moving this shit along……You’ve taken too long as it is, haven’t you?

Okay, I’ll wrap it up. She walks along the beach in tears as a sad song plays, she wins back her man, she enters the competition with him, they compose a putrid ballad together, and the big day comes. Her dad arrives in a rage, she runs back to her room to fetch her brother’s necklace, he is there packing her bags, it looks like she won’t return for her big moment, but right before the announcement is made, she is there in the wings. She sings like a good girl, the crowd roars, and the once skeptical teachers nod at her obvious genius. Some guy who looks like Angela Davis is playing piano, the dad is in tears, and Duff looks to the sky knowing that her brother brought this all about.

Is this the most you’ve ever written about a film so fucking awful?

It sure as shithouse feels like it.