“The Lizzie McGuire Movie” Reviewed (Part 3)

Hey now! Are you ready for the craziest possible resolution to this bananas plot?

Paolo takes Lizzie to a rehearsal hall so he can teach her to lip-sync. She’s crazy bad at it, even though we saw her lip-syncing wonderfully in the first scene of the movie. Was that scene just there to foreshadow that Lizzie was destined to be a pop star? It kind of undermines all of the “normal gal with confidence issues” stuff the script is trying to force on her.

HI-lariously, though, there is a part in this scene where Hilary Duff starts mouthing along to one of Paolo’s lines, which is such a first-year-in-a-high-school-musical-theatre-program mistake to make. Seriously, there’s a kid who does that in every musical. I laughed louder at this fuckup than at any of the intentional jokes in the movie.

Paolo tells Lizzie to actually sing along and and she’s soooo good at it, and Paolo is like “whoa, you’re actually so good at singing, I think girls in the 8-to-14 demographic should definitely go out and buy Metamorphosis” and then he says he’ll teach her to dance, which they do in what seems like maybe 20 minutes even though there’s no choreographer or mirrors and she’s not wearing dance shoes and you’d think this would actually maybe be the most difficult part to learn, since she’ll be lip-syncing and doesn’t need to sing but will definitely need to actually dance. Their dance moves in this scene aren’t synced to the music at all, because this director is hot garbage.

Lizzie gets back to the hotel and Kate tells her that Gordo got sent home. Lizzie’s all “What? Why would he do that?” and Kate is not all “Didn’t we have a very similar conversation in ‘Clue-less’? Girl, seriously how are you this dense?” but she should be. Gordo has also mentioned he’s Lizzie’s BEST! FRIEND!!! like 15 times already, so you would at least think that that would answer her question even if she’s still too dumb to catch onto his crush.

At the airport, Gordo sadly clutches his (Lufthansa) ticket. Here I assumed the McGuires would burst in and be like “We need to find Lizzie! Help us!” but instead he sees Isabella. Oh. Gordo’s sacrifice wasn’t just to heighten the stakes. It was also to put him in Isabella’s path. You can actually parse out how the unrealistic plot twists were thrown into this script. I would definitely assume Isabella would be too famous to just wander through airports but I guess stars are just like us. Isabella is of course played by Hilary Duff in a wig and smoky eyeshadow, and I apologize profusely for criticizing Paolo’s fake accent before because boy is Hilary Duff’s horrifically bad. She sounds exactly like Melania Trump. However, as was the case in the body switcheroo episode, she makes much bigger choices in other characters than she does in her girl-next-door typecast roles, so I’ll give her that. Isabella yells at her security team in English, you know, like a native Italian speaker would to her Italian team, demanding to know who the blonde imposter is on all the tabloids. Gordo says he’ll help her.

Miss Ungermeyer checks the rooms that night. Ethan is skateboarding around his because he is a delight. Kate put a bunch of pillows under the covers as a fake Lizzie and Miss Ungermeyer falls for it. But then the McGuires show up and demand to see her and the jig is up so Miss Ungermeyer insists that Ethan tell them where she is even though he shouldn’t know that information and Kate definitely should, since she’s clearly covering for Lizzie.

Lizzie walks the red carpet with Paolo and falls because she’s Lizzie. Seriously, how is she going to get through a dance number? She gets nervous backstage but Paolo’s all, “Relax, we rehearsed it one time yesterday, you’ll be great.”

Gordo and Isabella barge in, and I hadn’t noticed before but Isabella is in a full performance costume, which she was wearing at the airport and presumably on her flight as well. How uncomfortable. They tell Lizzie that Paolo is setting her up, and that he’s planning on cutting out the sound to let everyone hear her sing to make it look like Isabella can’t sing, because Isabella can sing and Paolo can’t. But like, Lizzie is soooo good at singing, just like Hilary Duff (you could buy Metamorphosis and see), so I don’t know why this would be that embarrassing. Lizzie says she doesn’t believe them because the guy she just met who’s been encouraging her to lie to her teacher and lie to the Italian press and lie to the record company would never lie.

Isabella is all “Did he tell you you shine like the light of the sun?” and Lizzie is all “Boys just say what you wanna hear?! 👀 👀 👀” and then Isabella tells her that she still has to perform, because if she, Isabella, goes onstage Paolo will know it’s her because she’s brunette, and therefore they can’t easily trap him, so they need Lizzie to sing to trap Paolo to get back at him. Again, I just want to remind you that this insanely complicated revenge plot involving Italian doppelgangers, lip-syncing, and the threat of a record company lawsuit only exists so Hilary Duff could sing in a movie. I would think that at this point Lizzie would say, “Uhhh, this is between you two, I’m just a dumber-than-average 14-year-old and I’m not really here to wreck the career of an Italian pop star I just met” but she does not because Lizzie really caves to peer pressure a lot in this movie.

Hilary Duff makes a very interesting character choice for Isabella, which is curling her lip when she talks. There’s a very real chance that she had such a difficult time with the accent that she had to contort her face to get her lines out, though.

Miss Ungermeyer, the McGuires, and the entire school group storm the backstage entrance of the IVMA’s even though I don’t know that dragging along all the students was safe or necessary. Miss Ungermeyer beats up the security guards to get in, which will definitely lead to imprisonment in an Italian jail forever. She just Amanda Knoxed herself.

Lizzie goes onstage to a giant crowd because this is held in the freakin’ Colosseum. Isabella runs into the booth and tells the sound guy, “Turn down Isabella’s mic!” and the sound guy doesn’t ask how she could be in the booth and also onstage. She sings into another mic so Lizzie gets to lip-sync to her lovely vocals, sung by Haylie Duff, the Duff sister with legit natural singing and acting abilities. Pretty wild how Isabella’s speaking voice sounds nothing like Haylie’s husky, deeper voice and exactly like Hilary’s speaking voice, though. They turn down Paolo’s mic to reveal that he can’t sing at all and the crowd begins to boo. Isabella herself walks onto the stage and everyone cheers a normal amount even though that’s absolutely fucking batshit. Imagine watching Beyonce perform at the VMA’s and all of a sudden another fucking Beyonce walks onstage. You’d lose your mind. Paolo continues to struggle and one dude in the audience howls, “FAI SCHIFO!!!!!” which is genuinely hilarious because it’s Italian for “YOU SICKEN ME!!!” and that’s just an amazingly off-the-wall thing to scream at an awards show.

Paolo leaves the stage and Isabella asks the crowd to give it up for Lizzie McGuire and says “Paolo tried to use her to trick you into thinking I can’t sing!” Imagine Beyonce interrupting her VMA’s performance to yell, “Y’all give it up for this girl who looks a lot like me! Jay hired her to impersonate me as an elaborate revenge plot!” I cannot even begin to imagine how that would go down, especially if it had just been revealed that Jay-Z actually couldn’t rap and had been faking it for years. I feel like half the crowd would just pass out.

Isabella asks if they want to hear Lizzie sing, and the crowd cheers instead of being like, “No, we definitely came for you and not this rando!” and Lizzie gets very excited even though I thought she was self-conscious about singing. And then they sing together -the upbeat, dance version of “What Dreams Are Made Of” that Lizzie never rehearsed because she and Paolo learned the ballad version – and it’s all fuckin apeshit, man. Isabella just leaves the stage halfway through. Imagine Beyonce leaving her VMA’s performance so some girl who looked like her but couldn’t sing like her could perform a cover of her song. PREPOSTEROUS!

Lizzie starts to just bolt off the stage when Isabella leaves, which you think would really weird the audience out, but I guess at this point they’re just along for the ride like I am. Gordo, offstage, mouths that she can do it, so Lizzie is inspired to sing live in front of an audience while doing a complicated dance routine for the first time in her life on live TV aired internationally. Her breath control is astonishing because she’s somehow capable of singing full-out while dancing without any training. The dance moves are kind of hilariously lame, though. If you’ve been in one high school musical theatre production and are asking “Are there grapevines?,” haha, dude, of course there are grapevines.

There’s also this weird dance move, which for some reason reminds me of Oprah.

Right?

Lizzie’s family and classmates all dance and Jo sings along like she would know all the words to an Italian pop song. Imagine if Jo had Paolo and Isabella’s CD and just never fucking noticed the resemblance between her daughter and Isabella. This whole scene is shot absolutely atrociously. You can make concert footage of Hilary Duff look epic and inspiring, but this director sure doesn’t know how to. Half the shots make it obvious that it was shot on a sound stage and not actually inside the Colosseum. It looks like an episode of Zoom. Lizzie and Miranda’s flirting-with-a-teacher music video is edited better than this.

It’s all just…it’s so much, you guys. I have been doing this for so long and I’ve run out of words for how bad something can be, and this is just its own special category of WTF is happening in this house on this day.

Note that in half the crowd shots, Ashlie Brillault clearly wasn’t sure if she’d be featured but just decided to err on the side of not being remotely in character.

NOTHING. ABOUT THIS MOVIE. WAS HANDLED COMPETENTLY.

Back at the hotel, Kate complains, “Lizzie got everything you’re supposed to get when you go to Europe: adventure, romance, total confidence.” Where are these expectations coming from?? I took a trip to Europe in high school and the only thing I was hoping to get out of it was a cool souvenir or two. Ethan and Kate flirt. Miss Ungermeyer and Sergei the bodyguard get together, if anyone was rooting for that. Matt tries to sell the footage of Lizzie singing in her room to the Italian tabloids, even though footage of a singer singing wouldn’t be that controversial, but the bellboy from Lizzie’s hotel throws it away to tie up that plotline. Sure. I guess there was no reason at all for the McGuires to fly out to Italy, because all they did was see Lizzie sing, which they could have seen on TV since it was aired live.

Lizzie and Gordo go up to the rooftop again and they look out upon the terribly greenscreened Italian vista together and Lizzie says things won’t be the same back home. Gordo says, “You didn’t have to be in Rome for this to happen. Trust me – you had it in you the whole time!” LOL wut. She had singing and dancing instincts in her the whole time? I guess in fairness to Gordo, Lizzie does have brushes with fame and famous people on an almost weekly basis, so this was bound to happen eventually.

Lizzie kisses Gordo and they both giggle nervously and he says “Thank you” and she says “You’re welcome,” and then he says they better get back before they get in more trouble, and that’s it, jerks. That’s all the payoff you get for all the stupid bullshit we had to see to build to that relationship.

Man, this was a mess. I was actually very excited to watch the movie, even though I hated the series, because I love bad movies. But this wasn’t even bad in a fun way. It wasn’t so-bad-it’s-good, and it wasn’t guilty-pleasure bad, as in fun to watch to shut your brain off and enjoy something. It was just sloppy and nonsensical and looks like it was slapped together on a budget of $1000. Miss Ungermeyer’s character did actually seem to be a setup for a high school spinoff series, but nothing else seemed to lend itself well to any sort of follow-up. It was laughably unrealistic. The actors all seemed pretty done with these roles. Every single scene featured bad ADR that I guess they had to throw in when the first cut was too limp, and I can’t stress enough just how bad the directing and camerawork are.

Would I recommend this movie? Maybe if you’re drunk and watching with people. Was it worse than the series? Surprisingly, yes, so much worse. Can I begin to imagine how this specific plot was pitched and approved? I can not. Would I listen to a Carly Rae Jepsen cover of “What Dreams Are Made Of”? In a hot second. Am I relieved to be done with this project? Oh. You guys don’t even know.

16 thoughts on ““The Lizzie McGuire Movie” Reviewed (Part 3)

  1. I’ll never forget being a carefree 10 year old seeing this at the movie theater with my grandmother. I made her stay until the end of the credits with me while I sang along to “Why Not?” at the top of my lungs and danced up and down the aisles with tears streaming down my face, lol. Like… what a pure moment.

    Once I understood what kind of blog this is, I got a kick out of reading it! I laughed at all the bizarre or downright stupid things that went unnoticed, and nodded in agreement at errors that always bothered me even as a kid (continuity issues, etc.) But as you said in your Lizzie McGuire Reviewed summary post… this show hit me at the right time. Yes, I am able to accept and acknowledge the fact that it’s an extremely flawed show. Yes, you’ve shed light on how less-than-stellar Gordo was. But, Adam Lamberg/Gordo will always be my second “celebrity” crush, (only behind Shia LaBeouf/Louis Stevens of course) Hilary/Lizzie will always be my #1 childhood idol, (heck, I STILL look up to Hilary Duff…) and watching Lizzie McGuire will never not feel like a safe little escape for me when life as an adult gets rough. Just putting it on and hearing the theme tune, the trio conversing, those freaking annoying/ridiculously overused sound effects, and occasional Y2K pop songs — will always be comforting to me and stir up emotions.

    I can clearly see how unrealistic and imperfect this movie is also. But, that’s not gonna stop me from getting chills and overflowing with happiness when the opening credits roll and “The Tide Is High” plays, or bursting into tears as soon as “What Dreams Are Made Of” kicks in, haha. Every. Damn. Time. Not even trying to get dramatic. Just bein’ real here. Have you checked out the alternate ending, btw? I always liked it better.

    Once again, I commend you for getting through the whole series and finishing the project! It was a fun read! (Even if you weren’t exactly having fun yourself, lol.) No one can really say anything that will stop me from loving this show due to the immense sentimental value it holds for me, flaws and all. But, yeah. You definitely pointed out certain things that I never would’ve noticed. I found the blog super entertaining and looked forward to it every week! 🙂 Plus, you inspired me to start my own blog which I’m having a lot of fun with. So, I’d say it was worth it! Thank you!

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  2. I just found your blog like 2 months ago, but I really appreciate that you waste your time to write. I don’t read all of your blogs yet but it officially in my year list.

    I have a question for you, Are you a Hilary Duff fan? Cause if you are, Could you continue the project by review the other films/series she features? I am a huge fan of her and I really love how your honest review of her (very limited talent in many ways– so sad that her sister don’t have pretty face like her, Haylie is real talent and can be a bigger star if she is the one who has commercial face) I wish that grow-up Hilary Duff should know by now that her success is very fluke and should start to do something in her work life before there are no fame left.

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    1. Thank you for resolving to read through the whole blog! (Please turn off your adblocker when you do 🙂 )

      Oooh, what an interesting question. Am I a Hilary Duff “fan”? I never had the attachment to her that many people did simply because I did not like the show at all as a kid. I was definitely very impressed by her career when I was younger because acting was always something I wanted to do, so to see her go from having her own TV show to starring in movies and releasing music made me want to be her. Now, though, I’m mostly just fascinated by her because there’s something so strongly likable about her in a way that no other celebrity – kid star or otherwise – really is. No one really hates Hilary Duff. You can’t. You can think she’s not particularly talented, but she doesn’t give off any strong vibes that anyone could object to. And even people who don’t like her work think she seems sweet and relatively down-to-earth.

      I’ve seen a bit of Younger, and Hilary Duff seems very good in it! She’s definitely a solid TV actress nowadays. She’s completely lost the awkward acting stiffness she used to have, so much so that it’s almost disconcerting to watch her now. She’s so much more natural. That’s the difference between doing something as a kid and choosing to do it for yourself as an adult, of course. She’s taking it seriously and she gets it now. I’m really interested to see what she does next, because I can’t decide if she wants the kind of fame she used to have or if she’s comfortable being a mom with a steady TV gig who puts out an album every few years. I really never felt comfortable getting into it on the blog, but some fucked-up shit happened to Hilary Duff in between Lizzie and now, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she didn’t want her life as out of control as it was in her late teens. She’s signed to Scooter Braun’s management company now, which is kind of bananas. He manages Justin Bieber and Carly Rae Jepsen, so I imagine she’s at least gunning for a smash pop single.

      I’d actually considered reviewing all other Hilary Duff movies (and all of her albums), both because I remain fascinated with her and also because I might as well put my now-encyclopedic knowledge of her to good use, but I’m in a much different place in my life now than when I started the blog (figuratively but also literally – I just moved to New York a couple months ago) and I really don’t have the time to dedicate to writing every week. It’s kind of time for me to stop shitting on other people’s art and put in some time on my own, basically.

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    1. There are some okay-quality clips of it on YouTube! The alternate ending is disconcerting because it shows Lizzie flying back to America, really hammering home how BATSHIT EVERYTHING THAT JUST HAPPENED WAS. Like, she’s just gonna go back to her hometown and do chores and homework and stuff??

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  3. I never re-watched Lizzie McGuire episodes before this blog, but once in a while, I do go to The Lizzie McGuire Movie when I want campy early ’00s fluff. It’s fun to indulge in old Disney nostalgia while mocking fashion trends from the period. Every single outfit Lizzie wears in that movie is *very* 2003, right down to the gold body glitter with her red carpet outfit. Plus, say what you want about Hilary’s singing abilities, but “What Dreams Are Made Of” is a damn catchy feel-good song.

    Even if it sounds like two people are singing it, and I don’t just mean Paolo or Isabella. I almost never notice things like editing and direction but man, the performance is just *bad.* There are times when it’s clearly someone else’s singing voice edited in (Haylie Duff’s?), like during “open your eyes/shout to the sky.” Then the next line it’s definitely Hilary. Seriously, who okay’d that??

    Then there’s the video editing, dear God. I’ve only recently noticed the contrast between the shots of the theater crowd and the close-ups of her family, so I’m glad you brought it up. You can see the scene was performed on a much smaller stage at certain angles of her family and friends in the crowd.

    And yes, at the end it bothers me when Gordo’s like “you didn’t have to go to Rome for this to happen.” Um…so if she walked around her neighborhood enough she would’ve been mistaken for a pop star and tricked into singing on an international stage? Then again you have a point about Lizzie’s frequent brushes with fame, so maybe Gordo wasn’t wrong. I also laughed because I do wonder what my reaction would’ve been if I was in the crowd at the music awards. I probably would’ve thought it was for a reality show or a promotional stunt for this new random singer.

    This movie needed Miranda. Not only did Kate act way too nice, I also wonder if her absence explains Gordo encouraging Lizzie to meet with another guy while crushing on her. She needed a best friend character to convince her to “have an adventure.” If Miranda had been there to push Lizzie and cover for her, Gordo could’ve acted more reserved and questioned if they should be trusting this guy. I also still believe that there’s more to her absence than “scheduling conflicts.” It’s like when they recast Marnie in Halloweentown – Disney couldn’t work it out at all?

    And why the hell do they play “Why Not” over Lizzie hopping on Paolo’s Vespa? There are A MILLION REASONS WHY NOT HILARY DUFF!!

    I’m done now. Really, I’m okay.

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    1. “What Dreams Are Made Of” is absolutely a banger. I’m so glad you brought up how much Haylie’s voice is featured in it, though, because I wanted to mention it but it got cut for space! I’m about 95% sure that they just gave Haylie all the hard notes. That’s not….a bad strategy. It’s like how all of the backup singers take on all the actual vocal heavy lifting on Britney Spears’s “Blackout” album and Britney just gets to sound like a sexy half-dead robot. It works because Britney is good at sounding like a sexy half-dead robot but not great at vocal heavy lifting. That’s why “Blackout” is Britney’s best album, and why “This Is What Dreams Are Made Of” works better than a lot of Hilary’s singles.

      Great point about Miranda balancing out some of Gordo’s nonsensical motivations!

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      1. Relying on backup vocals is one thing, but to me what the did for Lizzie’s voice is just *bizarre.* They used two VERY different-sounding voices to create a singing voice for one character. I feel like this is not normal. Was Hilary’s voice really so bad that they couldn’t auto-tune the hell out of it for the tough notes? Did they really, honestly believe Haylie’s voice passed for Hilary’s?? If not for the ulterior motive of promoting Hilary’s singing career, I’d say get Haylie to sing the WHOLE song so it’s less jarring.

        Then again I’m sure they couldn’t care less about Haylie sounding enough like Hilary, as long as tweens left the theater singing the song. Maybe this crazy editing technique was cheaper than auto-tune.

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      2. Perhaps they intended for the entire sequence to be a duet by Isabella and Lizzie (not just the beginning)? But then they decided, no, the people are here for BLONDE Hilary Duff, let’s give them ONLY Lizzie.

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  4. “If Miranda had been there to push Lizzie and cover for her, Gordo could’ve acted more reserved and questioned if they should be trusting this guy. ”

    That’s an excellent point. It’s like they took the Miranda role and split between Kate and Gordo. That doesn’t really work too well.

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  5. And with this, having seen all 65 episodes & the movie, and reading your reviews about them, I am done. Officially. I’d seen a few episodes here and there as a child, and the movie once in 2003 or 2004… but now rewatching it… or for the most part, watching it for the first time, it doesn’t hold up.

    But thank you for making these reviews. I always like reading reviews on episodes I watch or movies and your reviews are extremely well-written & engaging.

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  6. I have thoroughly enjoyed your blog… but I literally died when you wrote the following

    Imagine Beyonce interrupting her VMA’s performance to yell, “Y’all give it up for this girl who looks a lot like me! Jay hired her to impersonate me as an elaborate revenge plot!” I cannot even begin to imagine how that would go down, especially if it had just been revealed that Jay-Z actually couldn’t rap and had been faking it for years. I feel like half the crowd would just pass out.

    Please tell me you’re a writer in real life cause honestly, this shit is good!

    Also you mentioned Hillary Duff was in some fucked up shit between Lizzie and now, but I dont recall anything major happening to her (aside from her divorce)

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