"God Is Watching Over Us"
Actress and singer Hilary Duff has established a high level of credibility and success with the teenage audience in her roles on TV and film (LIZZIE MCGUIRE, CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN and A CINDERELLA STORY) and with her singing. Her debut album, “Metamorphosis,” sold nearly five million copies. Her new movie, RAISE YOUR VOICE, warmly capitalizes on both her acting and her singing talents.
In the story, Miss Duff plays Terri Fletcher, a high school student in Flagstaff, Ariz. Terri has an impressive singing voice, which has led her to prominence in both her school and church choir. The story opens on graduation day for her beloved brother, Paul. She buys two rock concert tickets for Paul as a graduation present, but their stern father, Simon, grounds Paul after an argument about letting Terri attend a summer music camp at a prestigious school in Los Angeles. Terri and Paul sneak out of the house anyway to attend the concert. On the way back, however, a drunk driver suddenly crashes into their car, and Paul dies.
This tragedy drives the family further apart, including Simon’s wife, Frances, and his free-spirited sister, Nina, who lives in Palm Desert, which is near Los Angeles. Terri’s mother and aunt conspire to get Terri to the summer music camp when the school accepts her. They tell Terri that the opportunity is just too good to miss. They convince her to lie to her father, on the pretext that Terri needs to visit Nina in Palm Desert in order to help Terri overcome her depression and grief over Paul’s death. What they don’t know is that the music school accepted Terri on the basis of a DVD featuring Terri’s singing, which Paul had secretly edited together and mailed.
At the school, Terri still finds it hard to get over Paul’s death. She still feels guilty about the circumstances surrounding his death and now she also feels guilty about lying to her father. After a tough beginning, Terri starts making friends. She even becomes romantically interested in a fellow student, Jay, from England, who’s also had some recent personal troubles resulting from the divorce of his parents. Jay encourages Terri in her lessons. They decide to collaborate on a song for the final performance at the music camp, where the school will hand out a $10,000 academic scholarship to the best student.
RAISE YOUR VOICE is an entertaining, moving film. The movie has many touching moments, and the musical performances are fun and sometimes uplifting.
RAISE YOUR VOICE has a strong Christian, redemptive worldview with some positive moral elements. The movie includes explicit references to church, prayer and God and a climactic scene where Terri sings about God watching over her. Some Romantic and feminist elements dilute this worldview, however. For example, Terri’s mother encourages Terri to lie to her father, because he won’t let his daughter follow her dreams in music. This theme of the stern, unreasonable father and the musical child goes back at least as far as THE JAZZ SINGER, the first feature-length sound movie starring Al Jolson.
The ending to RAISE YOUR VOICE doesn’t deliver quite the emotional punch in the movie’s first two-thirds. The script perhaps needs an emotional payoff where Terri and her father could more directly confront their grief over the death of her brother.
Although RAISE YOUR VOICE is not quite the four star, redemptive experience it could have been, it still provides a strong, uplifting experience for many pre-teens and most teenagers.
(CC, BB, Ro, Fe, L, V, AA, M) Strong Christian worldview with moral elements, with girl silently praying in church during a desperate situation, family attends church, choir singing in church, students practice singing Handel’s “Messiah,” and climactic song that briefly sings about God, with some light Romantic and implied feminist elements minimize the movie’s positive aspects; three light obscenities and five light profanities; light violence when implied car crash as headlights barrel down on another car, resulting in one death; no sex but teenagers kiss and hug; no nudity; emotionally upset teenager gets drunk; and, family lies to harsh father who is overprotective in an angry way, negative depiction of father whose anger is redeemed at the end, some rebellion, and girl becomes jealous of heroine.
GENRE: Musical Drama
Hilary Duff stars in RAISE YOUR VOICE as Terri Fletcher, a high school student in Flagstaff, Ariz. Her brother, Paul, is very supportive of Terri’s singing talent, but her father is not. Paul secretly helps her get accepted into a prestigious summer music camp in Los Angeles. When Paul suddenly dies in a tragic auto accident, Terri’s mother, Frances, and her aunt, Nina, urge her to secretly attend the music camp anyway. Things don’t go quite as well as they planned, however.
RAISE YOUR VOICE is an entertaining, moving film. The movie has many touching moments, and the musical performances are fun and sometimes uplifting. RAISE YOUR VOICE also has a strong Christian, redemptive worldview with some positive moral elements, including explicit references to church, prayer and God. Some Romantic and feminist elements dilute this positive worldview, however. For example, Terri’s mother encourages Terri to lie to her father, because her stern father won’t let his daughter follow her dreams in music. Although RAISE YOUR VOICE is not quite the four star, redemptive experience it could have been, it still provides an uplifting experience at the movie theater for pre-teens, teenagers and their parents.