Hello & welcome back. DisneyOtoko and I’ve joined together for a little project, where we will be reviewing some of the Disney Channel movies. Now I can’t tell you all of the ones, he’ll be doing but I’m starting off with The Lizzie McGuire Movie. This was the first Disney Channel TV show to have a film released in theaters. Something that’d later be repeated with both High School Musical and Hannah Montana. Now I should confess that I actually liked Lizzie McGuire back in the day and Hilary Duff was uh a pretty decent actress. Okay, I had a crush on her. I’ll admit it but for what it was, I thought the show was good but as for this film. Well, I saw it in theaters but while I liked it, I recall thinking that it felt lacking for this show. In many ways, it was the same feeling, I had when I watched So The Drama. Now I can’t tell but I think this film like So The Drama felt like it was supposed to be the finale but they changed things around so they could keep producing new episodes. Something that happened on Hannah Montana: The Movie as that was supposed to be the series finale but Disney Channel, I think had the script rewritten so that more new episodes could be made. With that out of the way, let’s begin.
Okay, this trailer completely mis-sells the film as something it’s not. I think one of the biggest detractors is when it said Lizzie had to choose between the life she knew or the life she wants. That was not the case at all, yes she pretended, I repeat pretended to be a pop star but she knew it was only for while she was in Rome. Also, another problem I have with this trailer this is called The Lizzie McGuire Movie, so why does this trailer feel as though it is distancing itself from the show. It barely even mentions the show in this trailer and instead treats it as this movie has no connection to this franchise. Maybe, it’s just me but if I know of a show I like and it’s getting a movie and I see The before the main title and Movie after, I know it is connected. This is real annoying and just for reference, I watched the trailer for High School Musical 3: Senior Year and at least that trailer had the common sense to reference the past two movies. Sorry, I just hate that when companies release movies that are part of a TV show franchise and ignore the TV show. Because on the one hand, this film is for the fans, which mainly consisted of tween girls and one Disney blogger that had a crush on Lizzie. I wouldn’t be surprised if more guys watched this show. Honestly, I could an entire article on what is wrong with this trailer but that’s not what I’m here for. I’m here to review, the movie. Which for the most part is pretty good.
Okay, if there is one area, where I think the movie has problems. It’s here. Is it a bad plot? No, not really but I think you can pretty much see everything coming a mile away. The film opens up as Lizzie is prepping for her junior high graduation. Okay, maybe it’s just me but I’ve never heard of that and the way they make it look in the film, one would think this was a high school graduation but no. Anyways, we get there and Lizzie falls onstage while delivering a speech and her bratty little brother, Mat sends it into GMA (Good Morning America) later and it becomes a running gag. We still haven’t gotten to the main plot, which happens when Lizzie along with her class are dropped off at the airport to go on a school trip to Rome. This is where the plot starts to pick up, Lizzie goes around sight seeing and at one point goes to a wishing well and makes a wish. She wished for an easy 4 years of high school. (Sweetheart, that doesn’t exist.) Anyways back on topic, this is when one of the film’s new characters, Paolo, an Italian pop star who is looking for a new partner as his old partner, Isabella left him. Oh, he’s the bad guy. Apparently, Isabella and Lizzie looked just like each other. Well, that helps when they’re played by the same actress. He starts to swoon Lizzie and take her around the town while her best friend Gordo lies for her to their new principal and chaperon. Lizzie is having the time of her life doing this and Paolo is showing her things she wants to see but as we find out at the end, gasp, Paolo wanted to embarrass Lizzie at an music awards show but he is defeated, when we learn that he can’t actually sing. Okay, I have to admit typing this out, this plot sounds rather silly. But it’s a tween movie. So, that’s what you get and it’s not that bad but I do think that the story could’ve been better. Honestly, I’m not even sure if this film needed a bad guy, I think just doing a movie about Lizzie touring Rome would’ve worked but what do I know. I’m not in charge of Disney Channel and trust me if I was, there’d be a Vault Disney block but that is getting off topic. Let’s get this train back on the trail. Again, as I said this story isn’t bad but rather okay.
Animated Lizzie voiced by Hilary Duff
Yeah, I didn’t know where to place Animated Lizzie. I didn’t know if she fell under character or plot device. So, I decided to go with plot device. Animated Lizzie represents what Lizzie thinks but wouldn’t say out loud. Now in the context of the show, Animated Lizzie worked well in the context of the show but I’m not sure, if she worked as well in the film. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I appreciate her presence as it ties back into the show and maybe it’s just me but Animated Lizzie did not transfer well to the big screen in terms of animation. I actually think she looked better on the show but that is just me.
For the sake of this review, I’ll be breaking down the characters into Main, Supporting, & Bad Guy. With that out of the way, let’s begin.
Lizzie McGuire played by Hilary Duff
How to describe Lizzie. Well, I think the best way to describe this character is to say that she was an ordinary girl facing situations that seem realistic for a junior high student save for this film… save for this film. The show for the most part was grounded in reality or at least it’s reality, which wasn’t too far off from our own. Now in this film, things feel bigger and grander but I find that to be okay for a film. Because if your to be a pop star almost felt like a fantasy. Now while watching this film and during the pop star parts, I kept on thinking of Hannah Montana and why I found the pop star element as pretending to be someone she’s TV show gets a film, your going to want to do something big. In a way, Lizzie going to Rome and pretendingnot. I think part of it was that unlike Hannah is that while that show tried to convince and use the pop star element in every episode, which got tiresome. (Yes, I watched that show. I like Billy Ray Cyrus). I think in this movie it worked because it doesn’t feel jokey like it did with Hannah and I always felt there was an aurora of fantasy around those elements. As I said above, I think that this film got away with that element because this being a film, I think made it work for me and felt natural. I also think because Lizzie is just a more likable character. Does she have her flaws? Yes but I think that is what makes her more likable and unlike the other Disney Channel character, I talked about, the audience didn’t have the pop star element shoved down for 4 seasons and a movie. Instead, it was just relegated to this one film and I think that actually worked. Now as for the character of Lizzie, the best word to describe her character is average and I like that. She is a sweet young lady who just happened to get to experience Rome before going to high school.
David “Gordo” Gordon played by Adam Lamberg
Gordo was Lizzie’s best friend besides Miranda, who disappeared before the movie and reason given was that she was in Mexico City. Now as for Gordo, he likes to go against the norm and if you want more info on him for the show, click on the link above that’ll take you to the Lizzie McGuire Wiki. As for the context of this film, it shows how much of an loyal friend he is to Lizzie. As he is the one that convinces her to go on this adventure and cover for her, the entire time while Lizzie pretends to be sick to get out of sightseeing and spending time with Paolo to fool the media. He is also the first one to learn of the truth and try to convince Lizzie that she’s being duped and can I say that I’m thankful that there was no big fallout because of this as that would’ve been real annoying. I think one great sign of loyalty from Gordo was when he was willing to be sent home for Lizzie as he covered for her by saying that he was the one sneaking out. Albeit, this didn’t make much sense as we saw him with the other students going around the city. Still, it was a cute gesture and showed how much he’d do for his best friend. Now there is one thing that really came out of nowhere at least to me. Okay, it’s been a while since I’ve watched the show and I can’t recall if there connection was as strong as that as KP and Ron’s because at the end of the film, Lizzie kisses Gordo. I imagine fans at the time probably wanted Lizzie and Gordo to get together. I don’t know if this was supposed to hint that was happening.
Kate Sanders played by Ashlie Brillault
Kate in the show could best be described as a queen been that was out to make Lizzie’s life miserable. She and Lizzie were once friends but I’ll let the Wiki explain why they grew apart. But shocker, when they get to Rome, they have to share a hotel room. Now really Kate is a minor character in this film but if there’s a thing that I like is that she starts to treat Lizzie like an equal and with respect and as a person. Though I think that in part comes from the fact that she was jealous of Lizzie’s situation because she thought she deserved it. But luckily, she grew out of that and at one point told Lizzie that she was being unfair to Gordo by letting him take the fall for him.
Ethan Craft played by Clayton Snyder
Ethan in the show was portrayed as the school hottie that every girl had a crush on. Though I do have to ask, why is every crush character that’s a male in these tween shows portrayed as an idiot. Seriously, I groaned each time I saw his character back when I watched the show and this film as well. Maybe, it’s just me but I really find that annoying. I will say that if there is one plus to this character, it’d be that at least he comes across as being a nice guy and oh, at the end of the film. He & Kate end up together and unlike Lizzie and Gordo, there was actually build up to it.
Matt McGuire played by Jake Thomas
Good grief, if there was one character I hated, it would be Matt, Lizzie’s younger brother. He fell into the trap of being the annoying little brother that loved to torment his sister. Really, that basically describes his entire character. He was there to annoy his sister and get in trouble with his parents. He did that here in the film as well and that’s pretty much all there was to his character.
Sam & Jo McGuire played by Robert Carradine & Hallie Todd
Lizzie’s parents, Sam & Jo are likable enough people and unlike some parents in later Disney Channel shows do not come across as being idiots. They aren’t perfect but again, what parent is and as I said Matt is the troublemaker. He was able to dupe his parents to take him to Rome because he tricked them into thinking that he missed Lizzie, which was just a sham so that he could get her in trouble as he and his even more annoying girlfriend, Melina found an Italian gossip magazine that had a picture of Lizzie and Paolo on it. Now if there was thing that I appreciated is that, Sam & Jo did not Lizzie off for skipping and lying on her trip as she was grounded at the end of the film. A small little touch that I’m sure was meant to be a joke but to me, that was just them being responsible parents.
Miss Ungermeyer played by Alex Bornstein
Miss Ungermeyer was the only chaperon for the trip to Rome and she is also apparently the high school principal. The best way to describe this character. Well, I’m glad that she only appeared in this movie. Don’t get me wrong, she wasn’t a bad character but just felt unneeded and boring. Her whole archetype was that of a tough as nails principal who wouldn’t take any BS. Well that’s great but I didn’t really buy that from her. Now I’m not saying that aspect should’ve been over the top but it really subdued here.
Sergei played by Brendan Kelly
Sergei was Paolo’s bodyguard and even though, he didn’t have much characterization, I liked him. It was shown throughout the film that he had a crush on Ungermeyer. I also liked at the end that he basically threatened Paolo for mistreating Lizzie, who he saw as a nice girl. Now this being a Disney movie, it wasn’t anything too serious.
Isabella Parigi also played by Hilary Duff
Isabella was the one that Lizzie was pretending to be. Now Paolo had been lying to Lizzie saying that Isabella quit and that she was a lip syncher. And went to an island to refresh. We find out that Paolo had lied to Lizzie about everything as he was the lip syncher and she can actually sing. She quit because she was tired of Paolo. Honestly, I don’t think I’m explaining very well.
Now here, I won’t be taking a look at all of the songs featured on the soundtrack as not all of them appeared in the film and instead, I’ll just focus on a few. With that out of the way, let’s begin.
Now, I believe that is actually a cover but if that’s even the case, it’s still cute. It’s a bit simple and I think it does work when talk about Lizzie McGuire. As she may face obstacles that all teens do but she’ll overcome them. Best way to describe this song is just to say it’s cute. Also I’d be lying if I didn’t think the shower sequence was a little funny.
Okay, yeah I’m pretty sure that this was not in the film and I do see what this song is saying that sometimes, your love is standing right next to you. But going back to Gordo and Lizzie, I can’t remember anything from the show or the film indicating they had feelings for each other outside of being best friends. Maybe I’m just blind and didn’t pick up on it but I swear their relationship that pretty much only existed in this film came out of nowhere.
If memory serves, this was supposed to be the hit song from the film. And in my opinion, it’s okay. Really, it’s nothing special and that’s true for most of the songs here. It’s just a standard pop song that happened to be sung by a Disney Channel star and I personally think that Hilary is a decent singer. There’s nothing special about it and pretty much after you hear it, you’ll forget about it.
Paolo Valisari played by Yani Gellman
Okay, Paolo had to be one of my biggest problems in this entire film. Because the reveal that he was lying to Lizzie seriously came out of nowhere. Throughout the entire film, the audience along with Lizzie are led to believe that he is telling her the truth. There really isn’t anything until towards the latter part of the film when Gordo bumps into Isabella at the airport that we find out that he’s lying. I don’t know, it just felt annoying that we were led to believe that he was a decent nice guy and he came across as that. But boom, no he’d been lying to save his career. Yeah, sure he was using Lizzie too but I think that is a bit of a gray area because he used her, Lizzie agreed to help him. Granted, it was under false pretenses but still, she agreed to help. Really, he’s not a villain and that’s why I didn’t label him as one. Honestly, bad guy is also a bit of a stretch. He’s nothing more than a desperate celebrity willing to use people. Ah, so he’s scum. Yeah, that fits.
My Final Thoughts
This is a movie with a lot of flaws but it’s still enjoyable for what it is. Was there any reason or this film to be released in theaters? In my opinion, no but I think to understand why it was, you need to look back at when it was released. Lizzie McGuire was the hottest show on Disney Channel and Hilary Duff was perhaps the most bankable Disney Channel star at the time. It’s funny looking at the other two franchises from Disney Channel that got theatrically released films, I think Lizzie was popular for a different reason than those two. Because looking at Hannah Montana and High School Musical, they both seem out there and far fetched when compared to Lizzie, she seems more relatable and down to earth. It was a simple show that really didn’t need a gimmick (besides Animated Lizzie) and I think if Disney Channel had done more shows like that, it wouldn’t be so bad. Back to this movie though, I have no shame in admitting that I enjoyed it again. It’s been maybe 5 -6 years since I’ve seen it but re watching, it was still okay. Sure, the flaws were more noticeable this time around but what film doesn’t have flaws. I also believe that this show and film represent that Disney Channel once had quality live action sticoms that weren’t dumb and for that, I give this film, a seal of approval.