An Immaterial Movie
Material Girls, a comedy starring the Duff sisters, fails to capitalize on tween fave Hilary’s talents and gives too much camera time to Haylie instead. It also comes across as silly, not funny, and fits the dictionary definition of "immaterial" perfectly: unimportant, inconsequential, insignificant, minor, slight, flimsy, nonessential. With little sparkle and less joy to offer viewers, this film should have gone directly to DVD. At the screening I attended, even pre-teen girls in the audience appeared bored.
Hilary and Haylie portray spoiled cosmetic company heiresses who are left penniless because of a scandal involving one of their late father’s cosmetic products. When members of the Board of Directors as well as their long-time manager (Brent Spiner) urge the sisters to sell the company to their main competitor Fabiella (played by the wonderful Anjelica Huston), the two girls refuse and decide to do everything possible to reinstate their father’s good name.
Along the way -- and with the help of their former housekeeper (Maria Conchita Alonso) -- the girls discover what it’s like to live in the real world. They also become their own private investigators, find new boyfriends (Lukas Haas and Marcus Coloma), and learn how to deal with betrayal.
Although I praised Hilary Duff for her acting in Raise Your Voice and enjoyed her performance in A Cinderella Story, her work in Material Girls is considerably less commendable. She's still cute as a button, of course, but the lackluster script doesn't give her a chance to shine. And sister Haylie, who's quite lovely but not as charismatic as Hilary, seems to hog the camera. (Haylie is listed as one of the producers, so I can't help wondering if this means she had the power to do whatever she wanted in the movie.) These two siblings shout at each other during most of the film’s running time, which makes it difficult to sympathize with them or to cheer when they change into better persons after becoming poor and having to fend for themselves.
One bright light emerges from Material Girls: Oscar-winner Anjelica Huston’s (Prizzi's Honor) regal portrayal of the haughty Fabiella. Huston is something special to behold here, especially when -- dressed in an elegant white gown and turban -- she glides into the lobby of her plush office and commands the secretary to “make it happen” after finding out what type of refreshments her guests desire.
Unfortunately, with the exception of Huston’s brief but impressive turn, Material Girls did not “make it happen” for me.
(Released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and rated “PG” for language and rude humor.)