Xpress, the Coolest Section of the St. Petersburg Times, is the home for features, news and views of interest to young readers. Most of the work in Xpress, which appears on Mondays in Floridian, is produced by the Times' X-Team. The team of journalists ages 9-17 from around the Tampa Bay area is selected every year at the end of the school year to serve during the following school term. The current team of 12 was chosen out of 150 applicants. Watch for X-Team application forms in Xpress during the month of May.

Read the reviews by Xpress Film Critic Billy Norris

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Movie review

'Lizzie' belongs on TV

Published May 5, 2003

[Photo: Disney]
Hillary Duff is Lizzie McGuire, on the small screen as well as the big.

Movie: The Lizzie McGuire Movie

Rating: PG

Summary: Lizzie (Hilary Duff), after an embarrassing episode at her middle school graduation, is headed to Rome on a school trip. Though her close friend Miranda is away on vacation, her other best friend, Gordo (Adam Lamberg) is traveling to Italy with her. They make a pact to seek out adventure, no matter what, and Lizzie certainly lives up to her part! She gets caught up in the world of an Italian pop duo - Paolo and Isabella. Lizzie bears a striking resemblance to Isabella (also played by Duff), who seems to have disappeared after a breakup with Paolo (Yani Gellman). Paolo "discovers" Lizzie on the streets of Rome, and she is quickly drawn into his world of glitz and glamor. Only with the help of her friends is she able to fake being sick in order to fool her seemingly foolproof chaperone, high school principal, Miss Ungermeyer (Alex Borstein).

My view: This film is ready-made for fans of the Disney television series, Lizzie McGuire, and will no doubt enchant them. They will enjoy the simple romantic storyline, and will appreciate the presence of their favorite characters from the show: Lizzie and her animated alter-ego, Gordo, Mom (Hallie Todd), Dad (Robert Carradine), obnoxious little brother Matt (Jake Thomas), archrival Kate (Ashlie Brillault), and clueless skater-guy Ethan (Clayton Snyder). This movie should have stayed on the small screen, and appeared as a Disney Channel Original Movie. The acting was TV-caliber, and the only laughworthy characters were Miss Ungermeyer and the hotel manager, Giorgio (Jody Racicot). Plausibility is an issue in this film - a chaperone leaving a student alone in a Rome hotel room while the rest of the group goes out to explore Italy, people constantly mistaking Lizzie for Isabella but not noticing her blatant American accent - that stuff really irks me, and little details like that can make or break a movie! But the bottom line is that the movie is cute, and her fans probably won't notice the inconsistencies. This film also marks the debut of Hilary Duff's first single I Can't Wait. She is attempting to make a go at a career in the music industry, and with a strong fan contingency already, she shouldn't have problems selling her new record.

Recommendations: Female Lizzie fans, ages 7-13: This one's being handed to you on a silver platter.

Grade: C+

- Billy Norris, 15, is in ninth grade at Seminole High School, and is a former member of the Times' X-Team.

[Last modified May 5, 2003, 16:43:20]

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