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New Line Home Cinema presents
Raise Your Voice (2004)

"Dad, this is so important to me!"
- Terri (Hilary Duff)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: May 13, 2005

Stars: Hilary Duff
Other Stars: Oliver James, Rebecca De Mornay, John Corbett, David Keith, Rita Wilson, Dana Davis, Johnny Lewis, Lauren C. Mayhew, Jason Ritter, Kat Dennings, James Avery, Robert Trebor
Director: Sean McNamara

Manufacturer: Global Digital Media Exchange
MPAA Rating: PG for thematic elements and language
Run Time: 01h:46m:38s
Release Date: February 15, 2005
UPC: 794043770425
Genre: drama


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B- CBB C+

DVD Review

There is a moment early on in Raise Your Voice where naïve small-town girl Terri (Hilary Duff) has a confrontation with her stern father (David Keith) about getting accepted in an exclusive summer music program in Los Angeles. The father, all furrowed brow seriousness, happens to think sending his 16-year-old daughter (who quite honestly looks like she's in her 20s) to Los Angeles by herself is an extremely bad idea. I imagine that the squelching of a young girl's dreams is supposed to represent the underlying theme of the stern hand of authority that Terri has to rise up against to achieve her inner calling, but I didn't see it that way. As a parent all I could think was I'd have said the same exact thing if I were him: "You're 16, you look like an adult, you're from a small town, you're not going to Los Angeles. Let's talk when you're 18."

But I'm smart enough to know that stories like the one in Raise Your Voice have been told countless times, and as I get older I get that much removed the intended audience, and I quietly find myself identifying with the stuffy adults. Yet this is a Hilary Duff film, so we know she's going to be sweet as sugar and twice as nice, and that ol' Dad is obviously wrong because this is a movie and far away Los Angeles is a bright, shiny, happy place filled with colorful, multi-ethnic characters and strict but quirky professors.

Of course this film would be nothing if young Terri did not get to go to Los Angeles (she does), under some veiled pretenses involving her "cool" aunt (Rebecca De Mornay), and she not only gets to realize her dream, but she gets a spiky-haired musician boyfriend with a British accent, to boot. Stock elements, like the tragic, but motivating car accident that kills a supporting character, don't offer any real weight to things, and Terri's unnaturally shiny world seems to exist in one of those backlot vacuums.

Don't let my aging cynicism ruin this for you, because after all I identify with the dad. Young Duff-ians will probably clamor for this, thrilled beyond reason at the way their blossoming young heroine finds love and musical awakening, all within a very clean, relatively wholesome package. Raise Your Voice was directed handily by Sean McNamara, a veteran of kid-friendly shows like That's So Raven and Phil of the Future, and it seems that he did all he could do with the material. He works Duff through the dramatic motions with all the right angles, and his presentation is colorful and slick.

Too bad the story has been told before.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C

 

Image Transfer

 OneTwo
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyesno
Anamorphicyesno


Image Transfer Review: New Line has issued Raise Your Voice as a two-sided disc, offering a 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer on one side, and 1.33:1 full-frame version on the other. This isn't New Line's best effort, but it is far from terrible. Colors looked warm and natural, though black levels faltered somewhat, turning details slightly muddy. The print itself seemed relatively clean, and authoring resulted in some small compression issues, as well as few patches of visible pixelation.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Audio choices are 2.0 stereo surround and Dolby Digital 5.1, and though this is hardly a showcase disc, you're better off to go with the 5.1 track. Most of the action takes place up front, with decent directional movement, but the 5.1 provides more frequent, but strangely sporadic, rear channel cues. The musical segments generally sound pleasing, offering some wallops of clean, punchy bass.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 21 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
5 Other Trailer(s) featuring Son of the Mask, A Cinderella Story, Secondhand Lions, How To Deal, The Notebook
5 Deleted Scenes
2 Featurette(s)
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The extras are your usual bland batch of short extras, led by the Behind The Scenes (07m:02s) segment, a typical EPK that has director Sean McNamara having to gush about working with Hilary Duff. The five Deleted Scenes (05m:20s) are quickies, and when coupled with the Outtakes (04m:23s) represent ten minutes of my life that I will never get back. Orchestra Sequence (01m:28s) is an odd one, showing the recording of the score, intercut with clips from the film; at less than 90 seconds, it is hardly an in-depth look at the process, which might have been interesting.

A Hilary Duff music video for the song Fly (04m:01s) is included, as is something called Interactive Jam, which allows users to select different instruments to theoretically "compose your own song" and hear how they sound together. A handful of trailers and the dreaded Interactual Player that promises DVD-ROM weblinks and photos rounds out the supplements.

The disc is cut into 21 chapters, with optional subtitles in English or Spanish.

Extras Grade: C+

 

Final Comments

For all the young girls who never saw one of the ten million other films just like Raise Your Voice this will probably be a suitably joyous ride as the fate of Hilary Duff's musical dreams hangs in the balance. For everyone else, the story moves in exceedingly predictable directions, offering not much in the way of anything new or unexpected.

 


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