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

Same old Hilary fluff

Published October 4, 2004

[New Line Cinema]
Oliver James and Hilary Duff star in Raise Your Voice, a movie about a small-town girl attending performing arts school in Los Angeles.

Billy Norris
Read the reviews by Xpress Film Critic Billy Norris

Movie: Raise Your Voice

Rating: PG for thematic elements and language.

Summary: Terri Fletcher (Hilary Duff) is a talented, small-town teen on a mission to go big places with her singing. But she locks away all her aspirations after a personal tragedy. When her application to the country's most prestigious summer music academy is accepted, she is reluctant to go. Her overprotective father immediately vetoes the idea, but with some craftiness from her aunt and mom, she is soon on her way to Los Angeles. When she arrives, she realizes this environment will be a test of who she is as a person, and if she can really make it as a singer.

My View: All of Hilary Duff's movies evoke the same reaction because all the movies are similar. This one just didn't capture me, mostly because it is a cliche. It has all the ingredients of the typical teen movie: the clown, the love interest, the bitter ex-girlfriend, etc. With a surplus of films forged from the same mold (weak plots and run-of-the mill acting), there is nothing here to draw the attention of older teens and adults. But these movies are always successful in that they fulfill the cinematic desires of preteen girls and fully satisfy the intended audience. Though it seems like Duff should be moving on to more mature roles in her career, it is easy to forget that she is 17 and still playing roles suitable for her age. In the grand scheme, her films are much more appropriate for younger audiences than the majority of what is produced these days. And she does make a good role model for young girls with dreams. Perhaps I'm a bit biased toward the hometown girl, but I think that Duff was outshined in this film by one of her co-stars, Tampa native Lauren C. Mayhew. Hopefully this role will open some bigger opportunities for Mayhew, because she has a great screen presence and a great voice.

Recommendations: Tweens and young teens will be delighted, but that's about it.

Grade: C+

- Billy Norris, 16, is in the 11th grade at Seminole High School and is a former member of the Times X-Team.

[Last modified October 1, 2004, 11:23:14]

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