Oh, boy, I definitely remember this one! Parts of it, anyway. This episode gave me a lot of secondhand stress when I watched it as a middle schooler.
I didn’t remember the weird-ass cold open, though. Lizzie is laying down on the floor and Ethan is hovering over her looking nervous. Cartoon Lizzie says, “The best part is…. it’s not a dream!” What’s not a dream? I’m assuming Lizzie fell on the floor like she does at least once an episode. What are we supposed to think happened here? Then it’s revealed that it’s CPR class (that’s a class?) and she and Ethan are about to lock lips. Wow, none of that set it up to make me think they were going to kiss, like at all.
Ethan can’t figure out what to do, so the gym teacher tells Tudgeman to take over. Lizzie freaks out and asks if someone else can be the demo victim but the answer is no. How is this happening? In a middle school? Middle schoolers are immature, hormonal maniacs. I can’t imagine this being a requirement anywhere. Also, there’s clearly a dummy in the background. Why don’t they use that for the demo? This has to be the entire reason for the dummy!
It’s a good thing Lizzie already had her first kiss with a mega-famous tween celebrity. Otherwise this would be a tragic first liplock. She gets mocked for kissing Tudgeman after class and complains to Miranda that it’s all because Ethan is such a fucking moron. Oh, Ethan is dumb again now? Tell that to the LAST EPISODE. To give the show credit, I think the references to Ethan being smart last time were actually written as sarcasm, but I rescind that credit because no one played it that way and those same writers still included a scene of him interpreting a metaphor that our main trio was too dense to decode.
Lizzie complains about how she’ll never use CPR or the Heimlich anyway, which is foreshadowing. Gordo shows up complaining about how everyone in school has seen Ben Affleck’s new movie Vesuvius: The Eruption except for them because it’s rated R and apparently no one else’s parents care about that. Real talk: do a lot of middle schoolers see R-rated movies? I wasn’t allowed to see Pirates of the Caribbean when I was 14 because it was rated PG-13 for swashbuckling violence so my sense of boundaries is warped. I feel like only a few kids see R-rated films at that age, though.
Lizzie says that if she’s mature enough to have to get a boy’s saliva all over her for a class assignment she should be able to handle an R-rated movie. I don’t disagree, Lizzie! Which is why I find the CPR plotline unrealistic. She complains that her mom will never let her see it since she can’t even wear midriff-baring tops. The show has used this as a benchmark for Mrs. McGuire’s overprotectiveness before, and as then, I will point out that Lizzie almost wore a midriff-baring top to school on picture day.
All three of them write a pitch to their parents to get them to accompany them to Vesuvius: The Eruption, mostly focused on how it’s historical and therefore educational. Lizzie pitches her parents in the kitchen but Gordo and Miranda are only shown in their bedrooms, because the show didn’t want to put together sets for anywhere else in their houses, and alone, because the show didn’t want to cast actors as their parents.
Matt tells his parents he’s signed them up to build a booth for the school carnival. If you’re keeping track, three episodes in a row have featured a charity drive, a charity drive at an amusement park, and a carnival. This school district loves events. Matt demands that they make a really cool booth and his mom says that the last time they did something cool Sam ended up with his eyebrows burned off. What are the McGuires into? I want to know that story. Matt name-drops some other PTA mom who Jo has a rivalry with, so she proposes a sick Velcro wall event. Holy shit, is this where my dream of having a home with a Velcro wall comes from? I wanted that for years. I bet this is why. Matt says his mom has great ideas and Sam hugs his wife and says that’s why he married her. There is a spark to this marriage that is very welcome after last week’s weird tension between them.
At school Gordo and Miranda pressure Lizzie into going to the movie without their parents. This scene makes sense, honestly. Lizzie is usually a good girl and Miranda and Gordo tend to be bolder. And the problem, wanting to see a cool movie that other kids at school have already seen, actually seems realistic and relatable. So how did the costume designers dress the meek lamb who gets pressured into acting out?
Oh, of course, in colored camo with a choker and bright pink extensions.
The rebellious Miranda, meanwhile, is in a big chunky sweater and khakis.
I hate the costume design on this show so fucking much.
Anyway, apparently their plan to see the movie was to just… buy tickets and hope they don’t ask for ID. The scene of them all trying to pass for adults at the theater is actually hilarious. Gordo puts on a smug voice, mentions his fiancée, and complains about work. Miranda rants about balancing her college workload with her internship at a law firm. Lizzie, the idiot of the group, just requests tickets, does nothing to hide her age, and accidentally asks for an under-14 discount. It’s all charming as hell. Lalaine has been impressing me with her comedic timing the past few episodes. They’re all starting to come into themselves as actors at this point.
Note that apparently Vesuvius the Eruption (“a Stan Rogow film,” per the poster in the lobby) has no colon in it. Grammatically confusing!
Gordo and Miranda pressure Lizzie into sneaking into the movie, and Lizzie stresses out because that’s like stealing. I relate to Lizzie VERY aggressively in this episode. Gordo says it doesn’t matter because they’ll give them good word of mouth, which will drive ticket sales, and Miranda says they’ll buy snacks and that’s where they make all their money anyway. Lizzie nervously agrees. Which of the two friends do you think ends up pressuring Lizzie to try pot for the first time? My money is on Miranda the summer before they go to college, but feel free to make your case for Gordo in the comments.
Miranda asks Lizzie to picture Ben Affleck, “sweating in clingy Roman clothes.” Honestly, I feel like Miranda introduces Lizzie to a lot of things down the line.
They sneak in by blending in with the crowd exiting the film, not with the time-honored method of just buying a ticket for a different movie, and Lizzie buys a lot of concessions because she’s overwhelmed by guilt. For one episode, I am Lizzie McGuire.
Suddenly some dude starts choking and only Lizzie knows the Heimlich so she runs over and saves his life! I could dock realism points here because I had to do the Heimlich once and it is super hard to do if you’re not much taller than the choking victim and so it was my brother who had to save my mom from choking to death on a vitamin, not me, but I will suspend my disbelief because this isn’t that bad a plot point for a dumb Disney show. The guy even spit out his jawbreaker in front of a poster with a volcano erupting, which was visually clever.
Miranda reminds Lizzie that if she hadn’t lied to her parents, that dude would have died. Wow! I guess the lesson this week is “morality is relative.”
They all end up on the news and are pumped until Gordo points out that their parents will find out they snuck into the movie.
Jo gets a call from the movie theater that tells her all about the incident and the upcoming news segment. She’s thrilled that Lizzie saved a life until Sam gets suspicious. “Did you say the Wilco Theater? Isn’t that where Vesuvius is playing?” he asks. Movie theaters in this town only show one movie each? Also, this is an uncharacteristically un-dopey moment for Sam. Jo says Lizzie told her she would be playing mini-golf and Sam says firmly, “Our daughter may be a hero, but she’s a LYING HERO.” Sam remains bad at burns.
The trio arrives at Lizzie’s bent on making sure the McGuire parents don’t see the news. Shouldn’t Gordo and Miranda go home to prevent their parents from seeing the news too? Gordo says, “Here’s the plan: we have to prevent your parents from seeing the 6 o’clock news at all costs.” Lizzie snaps, “That’s not a plan! That’s a goal!” which is a good burn. She should teach her dad.
Sam and Jo appear and bombard them with questions about miniature golfing. A lot of nervous lying and sloppy alibis ensue as the adults take more and more pleasure in asking difficult questions. When the kids try to get them out of the house, they insist on checking the news for the weather to make sure that’s a good idea. This whole bit is really fun! No one is screaming. In fact, there’s been no screaming this whole episode! What a lovely change of pace. Hilary Duff, despite being preternaturally gorgeous for a middle schooler, does awkward really well. The show tries to make her cute-awkward a lot when not making her bratty and rude, but it’s a lot of fun when they let her be really legitimately awkward.
She ends up picking up a lamp and smashing it to the ground to stop the conversation, then gasping, “I’m sorry! I’m SUCH A KLUTZ” in a beautifully uncomfortable line reading. Why didn’t they cast Hilary Duff as Bella Swan? Weird detail here: Miranda yells that they don’t need to check the weather, because her big toe always hurts when it’s going to rain and it feels fine, and we get a really bizarre cutaway to a throbbing toe.
I just really wanted to bring that up.
The McGuire parents then escalate the mindfuck by telling the kids they’ve decided to take them all to Vesuvius the Eruption and the kids DO NOT KNOW WHAT’S HAPPENING.
I am living for Lalaine’s reaction shots. Sam and Jo finally reveal that they know everything and all the kids get in trouble. The show almost ends with the three of them commiserating on the phone, which I’d have liked, but instead ends with Lizzie trying out the Velcro wall in the backyard and knocking it over, crushing her dad in the process. That was pretty dumb.
But hey, overall, I liked this episode! There was very little Matt. Lizzie was relatable and not obnoxious. There was a lot of goofiness that I appreciated. Overall, this was a pretty solid one. Thanks for the break, writers!