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'Raise Your Voice': Usual Song and Dance

By Desson Thomson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 8, 2004; Page WE48

Hilary Duff's squeaky clean agenda, to become preteen America's sweetheart in song and on screen, couldn't be more obvious here. This is for Duff's already committed audiences, which presumably consist of the young, the innocent and the commercially acquisitive. Far be it from me to stand between two interested parties.

She plays Teri Fletcher, a 16-year-old, church-going, musically ambitious daughter of an overprotective father (David Keith) and a gentle mom (Rita Wilson) and the sib to an impossibly wonderful brother. When a disturbing tragedy occurs, Teri's desire to attend a musical academy's summer program in Los Angeles is hampered by her traumatized feelings. And then there's Dad, who forbids her to go. A plucky lass with a powerful voice and a will to go should follow her dreams, right? Mom and Teri's aunt (Rebecca De Mornay) conspire behind Dad's back to make it happen.

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What follows is part "Fame" and all Hilary all the time, as she makes friends, learns life lessons, sings and enjoys a bubblegum-ish romance with a sweet-natured fellow student (Oliver James). The movie is going to be fine for PG-ready audiences, assuming they don't have a problem with extremely predictable story turns.

RAISE YOUR VOICE (PG, 103 minutes) --Contains a traumatic incident that could disturb young sensibilities. Area theaters.

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