(Warning: spoilers ahead!) Duff plays Terri Fletcher, a.k.a. the girl that every girl in the audience is supposed to want to be. Terri is a smalltown choir girl who loves her church, loves her family and loves to sing. She wants more than anything to be accepted into a three-week summer camp for gifted musicians. Gifted? We’re supposed to believe that Duff is a gifted singer? I would strongly advise you to check reality at the door before entering the theater. The world of “Raise Your Voice” turns much easier that way.
But of course there’s a problem. Terri’s father, played by David Keith, forbids her to attend the program simply because “terrible things can happen to a young woman in Los Angeles.” Her brother Paul calls Terri a “Stepford Daughter” for not wanting to push the issue, but Terri loves her father too much to challenge him. That night, Terri convinces Paul to sneak out of the house with her so that they can both attend a Three Days Grace concert for his birthday, but a drunk driver kills Paul and leaves a traumatized Terri alive and unharmed. Although Duff does possess minimal acting skills, they don’t do justice to the ensuing tragic scenes. Trust me, it’s noticeable after the movie replays the accident scene at least three times with Duff weeping each time. After the accident, Terri cannot bring herself to sing. Little does she know that big bro had sent the summer program a homemade DVD of her singing �
Well, wouldn’t you know that Terri gets into the program? And is it that hard to believe that she goes to the camp? Not really. Terri’s mom and her Aunt Nina (Rita Wilson and Rebecca De Mornay, respectively) convince Terri to go. “It’s something Paul would want,” they remind her. With their help, Terri fools her father into into believing that she is taking an extended visit to Aunt Nina, and she finds herself at music camp.
So far, the movie already closely mirrors “Brave New Girl,” an ABC family movie based on a book co-written by Britney Spears and her mother Lynne. Well, not only does it continue to do so, but now it starts looking like “Fame” Part Two. Every kid is uber-talented, and they pass the time by having school-yard improv sessions, with Terri’s love interest Jay (Oliver Hudson) on the guitar. And so on and so on and so on.
We all know what’s going to happen, of course. Terri’s dad finds out about his daughter’s deception, and arrives just as she is about to perform. (What, the conference calls with her aunt weren’t convincing enough?) Everyone knows what comes next: Terri’s dad sees his little girl up there on stage, and realizes that he’s been wrong the entire movie. Yadda yadda.
The movie closes with school-yard-sing-along part two only this time, Hilary gets the lead vocals. Wait a minute, isn’t she ‘improv-ing’ a song off her new album? Imagine that. In a sense, the final scene represents the movie’s feel in a nutshell: It’s overproduced. Everyone working on the film tries so hard to make it genuine, but even a stars like Wilson can’t save the formulaic plot. The movie could’ve been worse. If you don’t mind watching movies you can make fun of, it’s not the biggest money-waster. Go in with low expectations-I assure you it won’t disappoint.