Dir: Martha Coolidge. US.2006. 110mins.
US teen icon Hilary Duff may never have exhibited theacting chops of, say, Lindsay Lohan, but she does atleast usually project some sort of likeable presence on screen. The problem' Duff is the same presence in every film that she'sever been in - and it's never been more evident than with flimsy riches-to-ragstale Material Girls.
In the US - where Material Girls screened without presspreviews - the film opened to so-so business, taking $4.6m from 1,509 sites fora $3,061 average (her previous film, ThePerfect Man, opened to $5.3m from more sites). Overseas, where Duff is amuch less known commodity, box-office is likely to be lower (A Cinderella Story, the biggest grossingfilm sold off Duff, saw only 31% of its $75m global returns come frominternational). Expect domestic ancillary to offer some compensation.
Tanzie and Ava Marchetta (real-life sisters Hilary and HaylieDuff) are pampered heiresses to a cosmetics empire bequeathed by their latefather. But they are too busy being celebutantes tobecome involved in the running of the business - until the company takes anosedive and they face not only abject poverty but also the cold shoulder fromtheir sham friends.
The girls resist selling outto Fabiella (Huston), a rival cosmetics mogul whotheir father loathed, but with their credit cards cancelled and angry protestsoutside their home, their options are shrinking.
Moving into the smallapartment of their kind-hearted former maid Inez (Alonso), they eventually hookup with a young legal aid solicitor (Haas) and lab assistant (Coloma) to cleartheir father's name and save his company.
Despite sporting lower-cutdresses than she's worn before, mounds of girly patter and a swirl of heartypartying, Duff retains her good-girl image. But her usual fanbasewill be disappointed with the storyline, which noticeably lacks both wit andintelligence, and the nitwit lead characters, who one suspects will be hard forthe target demographic to relate to.
The plot is predictable,while the villains are obvious as soon as they are introduced. Most of thesupporting players seem embarrassed to be on screen, none more so than LukasHaas and Anjelica Huston. Direction and technicalcredits are passable.
Material Girls Productions
Rafter H. Entertainment
Johnny E Jensen