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You know how you'll sometimes see a movie that's clearly intended to be a comedy, yet as it spins on and on, you can't really tell what parts are supposed to be funny? (I'm not saying I spotted jokes that didn't make me laugh; I'm saying I couldn't even locate the attempts at humor.) Well, that's precisely what goes on in the astonishingly awful vanity wankfest called Material Girls, a "light drama" about two mega-wealthy young harridans who lose the family fortune, only to discover that, hey, some people have to ride the bus every day!
Toss in a handful of romantic subplots that add nothing but interminable running time to the fiasco, a few name actors content to humiliate themselves for a fat paycheck, and a finalé that thinks it has something to say but is instead a glowing monument to all things venal, selfish and materialistic... Wow. I'm not only stunned that this horrible movie ever got made, but stunned and disappointed that it came from the woman who (long ago) directed movies like Valley Girl and Real Genius.
The leads are sibling singers Hilary & Haylie Duff, and if you happen to be one of those young women who absolutely, omg liek, loves the Duff sisters, my only advice is to wait about six months. Fad stars are sometimes like the flu; ugly and painful, but they always fade away eventually. Anyway, these girls are to acting what I am to auto repair. That is to say "worthless." They priss and purr and preen their way through the ferociously facile screenplay, focused mainly on which cheekbone is bathing in which particular shaft of light. When they open their mouths you don't hear actors creating a character; you hear a 90-minute advertisement for Radio Disney. And after a while it really starts to hurt your ears.
Wandering vacantly through the background of this cinematic abortion are folks like Lukas Haas and Angelica Huston (who really oughtta know better) and the new B-movie queen Brent Spiner (who'll obviously take any and every gig he can get). Out of respect for Ms. Maria Conchita Alonso, I won't get into her role as "servant turned savior" at all. Ugh.
See, there's "normal movie bad," which we can politely debate until the cows come home -- and then there's "marketing masquerading as movies," which is what happens when the Duffs or the Olsens or the Spice Girls or Justin Guarini's manager demand a movie get made, just to kick-start one small but integral stream of revenue. Frankly movies like Material Girls sicken me; they're base and soulless and entirely unworthy of the celluloid they were filmed upon.
Video: Choose between anamorphic widescreen (2.40:1) or full screen (1.33:1); you're still getting something that looks like a 98-minute gum commercial.
Audio: Dolby Surround 5.1, DD 2.0 in Spanish and French. Optional subtitles (should you know any deaf people you need to punish) are available in English and Spanish.
Director Martha Coolidge provides a feature-length audio commentary that sure sounds like she's talking about an actual movie. Full of production info and whatnot, but neither the movie nor the insights are all that worthy of the attention.
Cast of Characters: The Making of Material Girls (9:54) is "We're like sisters in real life and best friends too, so like..."
Also mercilessly included are a music montage, a nine-minute featurette called Getting to Know Hilary and Haylie as the Marchetta Sisters (as if you'd really want to), and (of course) a Hilary Duff music video.
You'd think with a plot like this one, there'd be ample opportunity for satire, insight or venomous parody. Nope, just a feature-length tongue-bath for the undeservedly elite.