MGM // 2006 // 98 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // January 1st, 2007
They lost a fortune but got a life.
The Duff sisters, Hillary and Haylie, team up to deliver 90-plus minutes of harmless, bubblegum entertainment for your impressionable young daughters.
The real-life Duff siblings play the fake Marchetta siblings, heiresses to a giant cosmetics company. Their father, the company's founder, having kicked the bucket some time ago, faces a posthumous legacy besmirching, when news breaks of severe skin reactions to the newest Marchetta product destabilizes the company. The stock plummets, lawsuits are filed, and the company's biggest rival, Fabiella (Anjelica Huston, The Royal Tenenbaums) is circling their corporate carcass.
Poor, desperate and stripped of their sports car, the girls lick their wounds, piss and moan about their lack of credit cards, and eventually pick themselves up by their bootstraps and try and put their lives back together. With the help of the Marhcetta CEO (Brent Spiner) and lawyer wunderkind Henry Baines (Lukas Haas), the girls discover that there might be more behind the company's downfall than just bad chemistry.
Material Girls is harmless fluff. And that's a compliment. Would I wish to sit through it again? No way. But if I had a daughter or two, I wouldn't fear letting them watch this movie. It's a PG affair, devoid of any suggestive content, and has enough girlie-girl energy to propel it through its 90-minute runtime. Plus, is that Anjelica Huston? And Commander Data?
And what about the Duff girls? Are they annoying? Well, sure, but I'm a 29-year-old guy. I doubt the target demographic would be as cynical as I am. In an obvious dig at the Hilton sisters, the Duffs' Marchetta siblings are vapid and superficial. Thankfully, the filmmakers opted not to make them slutty; no hazy, green home video footage here.
The plot is straightforward formula: shallow, rich girls get poor, discover there's more to life than money, starts dating lower-class studs, call upon problem-solving abilities that had laid dormant for most of their adult life and take it to the bad guys. The end. Nothing changes in Material Girls, and if you have any functioning brain cells you'll be able to map out who the super-secret villain is, how the girls crack the mystery (hint: Hillary Duff's character is a chemist!) and who they both end up with at the end. Again, will this predictability matter to 11-year-olds? Nope. They'll likely laugh at the goofy humor, the Marchetta sisters freaking out, and, I don't know what else. What should matter to you, if you have daughters that would likely get a kick out of this stuff, is that the film is totally benign and inoffensive.
This isn't that bad a disc either, offering two versions of the film, full frame and 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen (on a dual-sided disc, sadly). The picture quality is very good and 5.1 sound suffices. Extras include a commentary track by director Martha Coiolidge, a making-of documentary, "Getting to Know Hilary and Haylie Duff as the Marchetta Sisters" Featurette, and a Hilary Duff music video.
I'd never want to watch this movie again, but for what it is and who it is appealing to, I actually don't think Material Girls is half bad.
Hey, there's still some leftover Christmas cheer in the air, so, not guilty.
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Scales of Justice
* 2.40:1 Anamorphic
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (French)
Running Time: 98 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* Director's Commentary
* "Getting to Know Hilary and Haylie Duff"
* Making-of Featurette
* Music Montage