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Raise Your Voice
2004 - PG - 103 Mins.
Director: Sean McNamara
Producer: Sean McNamara, Brad Jensen
Written By: Sam Schreiber
Starring: Hilary Duff, John Corbett, Rita Wilson, Kat Dennings, Oliver James
Review by: Joe Rickey
Official Site: www.raiseyourvoicemovie.com
   
‘Raise Your Voice’ is an affectionate mix of drama and humor, replete with characters and performances that ring true almost every step of the way. Terri Fletcher (Hilary Duff) lives in a small Southern town. Her older brother (Jason Ritter) believes she has a gifted singing voice so he coaxes her into developing her talent. She begins by singing at small clubs and with the local church choir; honing her singing with plenty of practice. But when her brother dies tragically in a car accident, Terri becomes more determined to make something of herself. She is thrilled when she is accepted into a prestigious music school in California. However, her father isn’t sure he wants her to move so far away from home. Needless to say though, Terri eventually convinces him to let her go. Once in California, Terri must learn to fit in and cope being out on her own for the first time in her life.

Directed by Sean McNamara, ‘Raise Your Voice’ is a film that, at first glance, would seem like a crass attempt at showcasing Hilary Duff’s musical talents; a feature length commercial for a soundtrack. Fortunately, the film early on eclipses such a heartless description thanks to McNamara’s sensitive handling of the material and better than expected performances.

McNamara gives the utmost amount of time dealing with the death of Ritter’s inspirational Paul Fletcher, the best example of a brother anyone could ever hope for. It is well established that Terri admires and looks up to her brother. McNamara also resists the temptation that would seem inevitable; that of the scene with a swelling musical score accompanied by much on-screen weeping. Jason Ritter brings depth and heart to his role; much the same thing that he does weekly on the television drama “Joan of Arcadia.”

As the lead, Hilary Duff once again engages with an imminently likable persona. Her Terri is a somewhat naive girl in a foreign place, learning to deal with an issue that most people have experienced in their life. It's easy for one to relate to her situation.

As far as supporting performances go, John Corbett, as perhaps the most seemingly off-kilter music teacher out there, is bizarrely different at first and then gradually grows on the viewer as he becomes a sort of sage and another source of inspiration for Terri. Meanwhile, Rita Wilson, best known as Mrs. Tom Hanks, does what she can as Terri’s mother in limited screen time.

‘Raise Your Voice’ manages to be effective at both drama and touches of comedy; making it easy to recommend.
 
Movie Guru Rating
An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater.
  4 out of 5 stars

 
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