DVD Review HTF REVIEW: The Lizzie McGuire Movie

Discussion in 'DVD' started by DaViD Boulet, Jul 29, 2003.

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  1. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    [​IMG]



    The Lizzie McGuire Movie





    Studio: Disney
    Year: 2003
    Rated: PG
    Film Length: 94 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (2.35:1)
    Audio: DD 5.1



    Well, firstly let me say that I’m happy to be posting my first official HTF review to the forum! Hello Everyone [​IMG]

    Let’s begin…

    The Story…

    1. Take Roman Holiday, Saved by the Bell, and Britney Spears.

    2. Have a Disney exec mix them together.

    3. What do you get?

    Answer: The Lizzie McGuire Movie.

    Ok, right now Hilary Duff / Lizzie fans are getting upset. I apologize. This is what happens when a 32 year old man previews a movie made for 13 year old girls…I’ve had to roll back about 20 years of cynicsm. But did I manage? Yes, and Lizzie McGuire helped make it easy (feel better now?)
    Those of you who are Lizzie fans (or who are at least familiar with her TV series on the Disney Channel) or who have seen the movie will find this redundant. But for the innocents out there who are un-acquainted with Lizzie in all her teen-star glory (as was I), I’ll explain…

    From the best I can surmise, Disney has managed to cash in on the teen-pop-star phenomenon of Britney Spears by creating (or at least promoting) their own version: Hilary Duff. The untrained eye may in fact find difficulty in distinguishing between the two at first glance (I did). However, I honestly have to say that I think I enjoy Disney’s version better. Lizzie captures a genuinely innocent nature that is more endearing, and despite her dressing-agent’s attempt to clad her in a wide assortment of flesh-tight ensembles, she doesn’t project the sex-icon sensation (or at least not to the same degree) for which Britney is so famous. And yes that’s a good thing IMO —I honestly don’t find it pleasurable viewing a kid in 8th grade through an erotic frame-of-mind.

    Preaching and basic Lizzie intro now finished…the story (minor spoilers so beware):

    Lizzie meets us as a Jr. High-School graduate who is grappling with what many teens can identify with: insecurity and a lack of self confidence. Paradoxically at the same time she’s abundantly blessed with what few teens can identify with: incredibly good looks and a fashion sense / wardrobe that sets market trends. However, it’s this very dichotomy that makes Liz so fun to watch…you can identify *and* escape with her at the same time; we connect with her by sharing in her insecurities and then we vicariously escape with her when she bedazzles a crowd with her song and dance when she’s thrust into the lime-light by series of well-crafted yet purportedly accidental twists of fate. But I’m getting ahead of the story…

    So after graduation (from the 8th grade) Lizzie flies to Rome with her group of classmates to enjoy 2 weeks of culture, fun, and adventure. There’s the usual cast (with whom the TV-show fans will already be familiar) of best friend, snobby-girl, dumb jock etc. Quite an excellent (and entertaining) performance is given by Alex Borsein who plays “Miss Ungermeyer”…the teens’ chaperone on the trip. And from what I understand, Hilary plays both the part of Lizzie and Isabella which I honestly did not think was the case when I viewed the film because her acting creates two very convincingly different people.

    Once in Rome, Lizzie meets an attractive teen pop-star “Paolo” who is part of a famous Italian singing duo with girl-teen-singer Isabella. As fate would have it, Lizzie is Isabella’s look alike (trading brown hair for blonde) and is lavished with affection by the adoring Roman masses who mistake her identity for the singer. But all is not well in gorgeous-teen-star-land as we learn that there has been a falling-out between Paolo and Isabella who is refusing to perform with him at the awards concert just a few days hence. If only Paolo could find someone to take her place on stage who could lip-sync to the songs to fool the masses and the record company and keep certain destruction at bay! Alas, all will come to ruin unless he can find someone able and willing to play this part…someone who looks just like Isabella who isn’t afraid of a little adventure...

    Surprise! In a unforeseen plot-twist the lead-character Lizzie McGuire rises to the challenge!
    Looking at this film as an isolated story through non-fan eyes lacking the fan-inspired momentum to carry me through, up until this point the story seemed a little flat and unsurprising (I think on 2nd viewing this might change). However, the night of the command-performance seems to usher the film into a new dimension with a new energy.

    A few unexpected events unfold and I found myself genuinely interested to see just how this film, which was clearly fashioned and marketed for someone other than myself (20 years younger and female), would play out. And after what at first appeared to be just another cute girl meets cute guy teen romance, I was also pleasantly surprised at the ending of this story which scores a few points for the always-the-best-friend nerds out there who never seem to have a chance.

    As the film culminates, the director manages to convey a bit of depth in both his characters and message that I found reassuring. Given the overtly superficial subject with which he was working (teen-pop-star rich kids) and the audience for which this film was no-doubt intended (pre-teen girls), that’s a very respectable outcome.

    At it’s worst, it’s just another innocuous pretty-girl-teen movie that’s somewhat benign. At it’s best, it’s a fun, comedic, and touching story that may embarrass you non-teens to admit you rather enjoyed.

    Picture…

    Lizzie is presented in both 4x3 pan-scan and 16x9 encoded 2.35:1 OAR widescreen on the same side of the disc. This is a rather uncommon move for Disney which usually eschews providing the viewer with aspect ratio options on the same disc. Bravo Disney. Well done. Yes widescreen advocates, I’m right there with you in championing the OAR cause. However, I also believe in choice, and have found that one of the best ways to accustom casual “I don’t like black bars” viewers to the virtues of WS is by *giving them* that choice on the same disc purchase so they can see for themselves.

    Disney has made this very easy by prompting viewers to select which version of the film they wish to watch after pressing “Play movie”. The menu shows two still-frames from the movie in both formats…P/S and WS for comparison…which illustrate the image composition differences quite plainly. You’ll be pleased to know that the WS option is highlighted by default (or at least mine was…my DVD player is set to 16x9 output so this might be a function of the DVD player aspect-ratio settings…I didn’t change them to see).

    Curiously, while the 4x3 P/S image is missing L/R information, it also shows additional top/bottom picture information (like Warner’s 1.33:1 version of Harry Potter). This is the case with the P/S screen-cap on the “choose which version you want to watch” menu and is also the case with the actual P/S feature film. I’m accustomed to 4x3-modified versions of 1.85:1 films often being “open matte” and therefore showing the additional picture content in the 1.33:1 film-frame that’s normally masked for 1.85:1 projection. And I know that Super 35 allows for extended vertical information to be revealed in the 4x3 frame as well…though I wasn’t aware how much L/R information is lost in this process. Those of you with more technical prowess in this area please chime in and educate us all.

    So what’s that 2.35:1 OAR image look like? First, having missed this film in the theater my comments should be read in this light…I don’t know what the source materials look like so I’m not inherently aware of what the DVD image should look like. Having said that...

    The image is free from “video” artifacts like aliasing and generally presents a very film-like impression. Detail seems a touch lacking and the image has an overall “soft” appearance but one that is pleasing never-the-less. There is also an abundance of film-grain in various scenes which is clearly film-related and not an artifact of film-tape transfer or DVD mastering. Worth making clear is that it’s quite possible (probable) that this representation is faithful to the appearance of the film and should not be regarded as criticism.

    The image is free from any visible edge-halos that I could detect even when moving my viewing chair closer to achieve a 1:2 screen width/viewing distance ratio. Bravo to Disney for keeping their fingers off the EE dial. The only real problem that I could really objectify is a bit of occasional visible compression artifacting which shows up as a blocky-grain in large-field solid areas in the image…like in the blue on the graduation robes at the beginning of the film. This may be partly due to the bit-rate needed to squeeze 2 versions of the film onto one side of a DVD while leaving room for a moderate amount of “extra” material.

    Bottom line on picture: Assuming that the soft look and grain is representative of the look of the film, this DVD gets good marks minus a point or two for a bit of visible MPEG compression (that most viewers will probably not notice). Average - good in appearance.

    Picture: 3.5 / 5
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    I viewed this film on a calibrated 34” 16x9 direct-view 480-progressive monitor from about 3 screen-widths away. I’d be happy to hear comments from those of you with larger and more revealing displays.

    Sound…

    Here is where the technical merits of this disc really shine. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is phenomenal. There is quite a bit of music integrated into the soundtrack of this film and it is presented with a lush and involving quality. Dialogue is clear and easy to hear, and surround use is primarily used for atmosphere and as such is used effectively (especially during musical numbers). Bass is solid and deep and the musical tracks take full advantage of a wide and colorful frequency response. The big moment where Lizzie makes her grand appearance on stage at the awards ceremony comes across with a life-like size and presence and really helps propel the movie forward with a great energy. The folks who mixed/mastered this 5.1 soundtrack really knew what they were doing and fans of the show will certainly be pleased. I found myself caught up in the “swell” of music from time to time which made watching the film more enjoyable. Good job Disney.

    Audio: 5 / 5
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    Extras…

    There’s a fun making-of documentary that shows Hilary Duff (Lizzie) and the cast/crew in Rome which is cute (face if folks, the word “cute” is about the most appropriate adjective I can come up with for this film!). There’s also a music-video featuring Hilary and Co. which fans will no-doubt enjoy watching. A handful of deleted scenes is also included (4x3 lbxed 2.35:1) with optional intro by the director. All in all, a nice supply of extras given that this title isn’t exactly on the level of the Lion King (we can be honest...right?).

    Final Thoughts…

    I had been eagerly anticipating what my first Disney title would be…the cutting-edge musical Chicago? Some animated classic restored to pristine glory? Lizzie McGuire wasn’t even on my radar. But the god’s conspired and sent it to me and I was faithful. And to sum it all up:

    It’s cute.

    Yep. That’s the most appropriate term to capture it all. Not recommended for cynical 32+ year old males like myself unless you have a desire to see what apparently appeals to the pre-teen girl culture of today (I’m almost ready to go out and by some boy-band and Britney CDs after watching this movie). But if you’re curious, or if you have pre-teen kids that age who want to watch it, or if you’re a Hilary / Lizzie fan and are chompin’ at the bit to get her feature film on DVD...given the respectable image transfer, fantastic 5.1 audio, and decent extras to accompany the feature film...then in the words of this immortal teen-pop-star’s song lyrics… “Why Not?!”



    Release Date: August 12, 2003
     
  2. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Lead Actor

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    good job, David.
    on the rare occasion when i find myself awake early on a saturday morning, i've ran across the LM show while channel flipping. For its target audience it actually looks pretty good. i was trying to think of anything of that quality and style that was available in the late 70's early 80's and nothing came to mind.


    just one question: what gear are you viewing this on?
     
  3. Jon Robertson

    Jon Robertson Screenwriter

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    Excellent review, David. Your look at the film was very readable and entertaining indeed and the technical section was chock full of just the kind of information I'm looking for when I'm considering whether to get a disc. I can honestly say I'm looking forward to reading more of them (alas, Ms Duff will not be making her debut appearance on my shelf anytime soon).
     
  4. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    Thanks Jon. Higher praise could not be given [​IMG]

    much appreciated.

    And folks...while I'm fine-tuning my reviewing skills be sure to give me feedback. While I might not appreciate being taken-to-task and ripped apart publicly on the forum, if you have any helpful words of advice please PM me and I assure you I'll take your comments seriously.

    I also welcome folks posting their *own* impressions of movie/picture/sound once the disc is in your hands. I think as long as we're all respectful, it's great to have some other points of view and I don't view it as rude or against forum etiquette for other HTF members to share impressions or opinions that may differ from mine. Personally, I'd rather have picture/sound related posts show up in the review thread where it's most relevant and not have HTFr's feel they have to post elseware for fear of offending me if the have a different point of view.

    Looking forward to your thoughts about this disc and to many future reviews!!!

    -dave [​IMG]

    p.s. to read all about me and the other reviewers and to see our equipment lists/system details click here:

    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/files/htfreviewers.html
     
  5. Nick Graham

    Nick Graham Screenwriter

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    Man, your first review, and Disney hands you that. Thanks for taking one for the team, Dave.
     
  6. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    [​IMG]
     
  7. Randy A Salas

    Randy A Salas Screenwriter

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  8. Bill Buklis

    Bill Buklis Supporting Actor
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  9. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    Thanks Randy for providing that information. That's very helpful indeed.

    BTW, I love Trick and though it was a fantastic movie (though technically suffered from the same issues...lots of grain and relatively soft-focus at times). I wouldn't have assumed that the same director was behind both films just from watching them however...the feel and energy to these films is very different (then again...so is the subject matter and target audience [​IMG] ).

    -dave
     
  10. Adam_Reiter

    Adam_Reiter Second Unit

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    Good work David. Excellent review! If my kids were a little older, I might consider this one.

    I am kinda scared to do my first review now.
    A: I am worried my first title will be some moview I have never heard of.
    and
    B: You guys are churning out some great reviews. I hope its not as hard for me as I am anticipating. You guys are packing alot of info in your reviews. [​IMG]

    BTW, I give your first review .... [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  11. Josh Sieg

    Josh Sieg Second Unit

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    Awesome review dude!
     
  12. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

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    Great review David..!! Man, if this is what we get for Lizzy McGuire, I'll have to book an extra week of vacation time to read the Chicago review... [​IMG]


    Herb
     
  13. Tony-B

    Tony-B Producer

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    Nice job David. Keep up the great work! [​IMG]
     
  14. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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    Excellent review. I'm just sorry you had to begin with such a title. Talk about trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. [​IMG]
     
  15. Christ Reynolds

    Christ Reynolds Producer

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    great first review, i'll certainly never see this movie, but i'll surely read your reviews.

    CJ
     
  16. Adam_WM

    Adam_WM Screenwriter

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    My God, it's the second coming of Ron Epstein! FABULOUS Review! Love the format and it really reflects the thought you put into it! I look forward to reading your reviews in the future!
     
  17. LarryE

    LarryE Stunt Coordinator

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    David, just had to throw my 2 cents in and agree that you did a wonderful job on your first review. Talk about tough subject material for the first review! I probably would have broke out in a cold sweat when I opened that package.
     
  18. Martin Fontaine

    Martin Fontaine Supporting Actor

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    I actually enjoyed the film. I like female artists a lot so that is my kind of music, except for the fact that I prefer those who write their own songs but movie caracters are exempt of that rule. So along with Coyote Ugly and Josie And The Pussycats, this may well end up in my collection.

    It depends what else is coming out that week, if too many disks are released that week, that one will probably be dropped.

    Kinda sucks they wasted space for the foolscreen version but it's good to see that Disney learned from their mistake *cough* Country Bears *cough*. And the good use of 5.1 sound is really good on movies like this.

    So for me, it's a maybe.
     
  19. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    Hey Martin,

    no need to explain yourself. You're more than permitted to like this movie and to want the DVD! Even though I wouldn't have sought out the film, after having watched it I can understand how it would appeal to some folks. Since you've seen the movie and enjoyed it, I can assure you that the DVD is worthy of your purchase.


    BTW, thanks everyone for your great compliments! This was a somewhat challenging title for my first review [​IMG] and it really means a lot to me that you've all taken time to read it and give me the feedback that you have.

    I'm genuinely touched :b and am really looking forward to the chance to review a higher-profile title for you all very soon.

    -dave [​IMG]
     
  20. Benjamin.D

    Benjamin.D Stunt Coordinator

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    Excellent review!!!!!!!!!

    Ben
     

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