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.
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.