MGM // 2006 // 98 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Franck Tabouring (Retired) // April 28th, 2011
They lost a fortune but got a life.
If you ever wondered why Hilary Duff's big-screen career suddenly came to a halt, it's partly because of films like Material Girls. Truth be told, Duff grew older but the material she was stuck with never did, and as a result, her more recent theatrical releases clearly underperformed at the box office. MGM recently decided to rerelease Material Girls on Blu-ray, but I'm pretty sure nobody out there ever asked for it. Either way, let's find out how the Duff sisters look in high definition.
Hilary and Haylie Duff play Tanzie and Ava Marchetta, two wealthy Los Angeles socialites who've been leading quite the luxurious lifestyle ever since they inherited their late father's successful cosmetics company. Every party has to come to an end though, and for the Marchetta sisters, life takes an unexpected turn when a surprising product scandal puts their entire company in jeopardy. Stripped of their fortune and reputation, Tanzie and Ava have no choice but take matters into their own hands and investigate the situation before all hope of a recovery is lost.
In the genre of utterly conventional, superficial teenage flicks, Martha Coolidge's Material Girls is a clear winner, and if there's one thing this film is stuffed with, it's an annoyingly high number of scenes dominated by girlish screaming and giggling. Kids on the brink of their teenage years may appreciate this kind of obnoxious humor, but those with a sane mind will have a hard time sitting through this wannabe comedy. Surprisingly enough though, the Duff sisters are not entirely to blame for the film's ultimate downfall. Instead, it's primarily the lack of a clever and coherent story line that pretty much eliminates every chance for the movie to shine.
Harmless throughout, the plot is one we're all too familiar with, as the characters we meet at the beginning of the story are two spoiled party girls who love to be in the limelight and thoroughly enjoy not having to deal with any responsibilities. When they're suddenly left with nothing, they are forced to act like adults for the first time in their life, and before you know it, they quickly learn their lessons the hard way before emerging from their predicament as two mature ladies getting a kick out of their brand-new lifestyle.
None of this is particularly memorable, and chances are you'll never even care about any of these goofy characters. They have their fun taking it up with their enemies in order to save their company, and that's it. Good for them, but not at all compelling for us. As I already mentioned, youngsters not worried about decent filmmaking may indeed enjoy Tanzie and Ava's misadventures as penniless girls and their subsequent investigation, and if there's anything it it for their parents, it's that the film will certainly not corrupt its target audience. Too bad it does have anything to teach them eitherÉ
Although they're stuck with stupid material, Hilary and Haylie clearly have a lot of fun on the big screen, which directly translates into two so-so performances infused with enough energy to keep the film's pace moving forward. Strangely enough, I enjoyed Haylie's acting a little more than her sister's, but that's probably because she plays the less eccentric of the two. Kudos to Coolidge for recruiting Anjelica Huston and Brent Spiner to play some of the supporting characters.
On Blu-ray, Material Girls looks pretty impressive. The film is filled with all sorts of strong colors, and the sharp, clean 2.40:1 widescreen transfer definitely does them justice. In terms of sound, the disc boasts a solid 5.1 DTS-HD master transfer. Those of you who can't get enough of the Duff sisters will certainly be pleased with the specials this edition has to offer. Besides a Hilary Duff music video, the bonus features include a featurette about how much fun it was for the Duffs to play these characters. Also included is a short behind-the-scenes look, a quick music montage and an audio commentary with Martha Coolidge.
Loyal Hilary Duff fans may easily enjoy all the harmless nonsense Material Girls throws at them, but the film certainly has a hard time winning over anybody else. A more creative approach to story-telling could've saved this little flick from failure, but my guess is the screenwriters never really knew what they wanted out of this project. Better luck next time.
Review content copyright © 2011 Franck Tabouring; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2015 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 2.40:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 98 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* Music Montage
* Music Video