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HTF REVIEW: Material Girls (1 Viewer)

Cameron Yee

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Cameron Yee

Material Girls


Release Date: December 12, 2006
Studio: MGM Studios
Year: 2006
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1h38m
Video: 2.40:1 anamorphic
Audio: English 5.1 Dolby Surround, Spanish Dolby Surround, French Dolby Surround
Subtitles: English, Spanish
TV-Generated Closed Captions: English
Menus: Animated
Packaging/Materials: Single-disc keepcase with one-sheet scene selection index
MSRP: $29.99


The Feature: 2/5
Real-life celebrity sisters Haylie and Hilary Duff play quasi "ripped from the headlines" socialite sisters Ava and Tanzie Marchetta, heiresses to a cosmetics empire. Like all good wealthy, privileged teenagers the Marchettas are out of touch, superficial and self-absorbed. That is until the cosmetics company built by their late father gets hit by claims its product causes facial scarring. So the girls have to deal with frozen bank accounts, riding public transportation and looking for jobs. Unfortunately this supposed "riches to rags" story doesn't linger too long on any hard life lessons. Despite the girls' taste for what it's like to live with the common people, the only lasting lesson seems to be: Don't let anyone mess with your inheritance. Oh yeah, and middle class guys make good boyfriends. But maybe that's sufficient moralizing for the tweener audience this film is ultimately aimed at. For those of us well past that age, "Materials Girls" doesn't offer much in the way of entertainment, originality or insight, ultimately feeling as superficial as its main characters (pre-scandal of course).


Video Quality: 3.5/5
The film is clear of any dust, dirt or damage. Black levels are good, though contrast range is inconsistent with the first 40 minutes having a slight underexposed quality. Sharpness is also inconsistent, with close ups tending to be more sharp but occasionally suffering from the same general softness found in the rest of the film. Flesh tones looked accurate enough and colors nicely saturated.


Audio Quality: 3/5
Like the film's plot the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio mix sometimes lacks subtlety, particularly in the early scenes where the music soundtrack overpowers center channel dialogue. The surround channels, though used sparingly throughout the film, tend to be overbearing as they punctuate a moment or scene transition. When other channels aren't intruding, the dialogue is clear and intelligible.


Special Features: 2.5/5

Note: "Material Girls" comes on a flipper disc with a full screen version on one side and a widescreen version on the other. Outside of the audio commentary, each side has its own set of special features.

Audio Commentary with Director Martha Coolidge: Coolidge's commentary has few moments of dead air, offering a 50-50 mix of scene summary/description and behind-the-scenes information. Fairly interesting and the lone special feature with any depth, but it also necessitates an appreciation for the film.

Getting to Know Hilary and Haylie as the Marchetta Sisters (9m42s): The Duff Sisters talk about their characters and experiences on set. A standard promotional fluff piece.

Hilary Duff "Play with Fire" Music Video (3m12s): Duff does her best Kylie Minogue impersonation.

Cast of Characters: The Making of Material Girls (9m57s): Interviews with Coolidge, screenwriters and cast members. Another standard promotional piece.

Material Girls Music Montage (2m24s): A montage of behind the scenes and film clips set to a remixed, Duff Sisters cover of Madonna's "Material Girl."

Theatrical Trailer (2m20s): 1.85 anamorphic


Recap and Final Thoughts

The Feature: 2/5
Video Quality: 3.5/5
Audio Quality: 3/5
Special Features: 2.5/5
Overall Score (not an average): 2.5/5

Adults probably won't get much out "Material Girls" but if they have Duff fans in their lives it's going to be a required purchase, regardless of the average technical quality of the release. The sole aspect likely to appeal to adults and film enthusiasts is Coolidge's commentary, though that would suggest their having enjoyed the film in the first place.


Equipment: Toshiba 42" CRT RPTV fed a 1080i signal from an Oppo DV-971 DVD player. Audio evaluation is based on an Onkyo TX-SR575x 5.1 AVR running JBL S26 mains and surrounds, JBL S-Center, and BFD-equalized SVS 20-39 PCi subwoofer.
 

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