Material Girls has rightly been forgotten in the annals of time. It’s a film with no redeemable characters – despite the main characters making a transformation at the end – cardboard cutouts for the supporting cast and a story that’s uninteresting and predictable. I know some might pick this up when it’s on the Wal Mart shelf for $10 but unless you’re a huge fan of either of the Duffs and are easily amused, just pass it on by and spend your money more wisely.
Fox | PG – 98 min. – $19.99 | March 29, 2011
Directed by: Martha Coolidge
Writer(s): John Quaintance and Jessica O’Toole & Amy Baron (written by)
Cast: Hilary Duff, Haylie Duff, Anjelica Huston, Lukas Haas, Brent Spiner
Theatrical Release Date: August 18, 2006
Features: Commentary, Featurettes, Music Video
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Surround)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.40
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
THE MOVIE – 2/5
** As if anyone cares, this does have potential spoilers. **
Upon its release in 2006, during what I assume was star/producer Hilary Duff’s height of stardom, Material Girls barely made a ripple at the box office opening to a paltry $4.6 million and a mere $11.4 million domestic total which shows that even those who did pay didn’t care for what they saw, and upon my first viewing, I tend to agree.
Material Girls is a vapid film that tries to make good by turning two rich brats into more socially conscience citizens but in the end it my opinion of the characters doesn’t change. The story is about cosmetic socialite sisters Tanzie (HILARY DUFF) and Ava Marchetta (HAYLIE DUFF) who are living large with many servants inside a luscious mansion, spend an absorbent amount of cash and hang out at the hottest spots in town posing for the paparazzi cameras and be greeted by “friends” – including Ava’s business engagement with a soap opera actor – who are more vapid than they are. The pair became heirs to the cosmetics company after their father died but the day to day business is being run by their trustee Tommy Katzenbach (BRENT SPINER) while the head of the company’s biggest competitor, Fabiella (ANJELICA HUSTON), is eager for a merger.
Things start falling apart for the Tanzie and Ava when a scandal breaks when it’s alleged that one of the products causes irreversible skin rashes and now the company is on the verge of collapse and the sisters are downright broke. Of course, to make matters worse, their mansion burns down after Tanzie accidentally starts a fire (via a series of coincidences) and after they are shunned by their former friends, the only person they can turn to is their nanny.
Now they must band together, despite some of their differences, to save the company and their father’s reputation/legacy before the company gets taken over by Fabiella. Who is behind the evil mastermind? Well, I won’t say it isn’t Brent Spiner… but it is and it’s kind of obvious from the beginning that he’d be the antagonist especially with his accentuated east coast accent that seems to be either weak or strong depending on the scene.
I couldn’t stand this movie, plain and simple. I know the point of taking the apparently vapid rich girls, though Hilary Duff’s character wants to be more, and bring them down to the masses of the poor and downtrodden but it plays out like a Disney movie (no surprise there) where the jokes fall flat, the plot is obvious and the bad/questionable guys are cardboard cutouts.
In regards to the cast, I can’t fault the Duff sisters too much yet at the same time Hilary served as producer while Haylie was a co-producer (along with mother Susan Duff was a producer as well) so they’re not entirely free of blame. However, the screenplay by John Quaintance (“Joey” and “Perfect Couples” if that says anything), Jessica O’Toole and Amy Rardin (“Greek”) falls completely flat as there was not one character that was either original or really likable and in terms of the antongnists, you can like a bad guy but root against him/her (see: The Joker in The Dark Knight).
That’s the down low about this time capsule of a film that’s only 5 years old. In a way it’s harmless enough but it’s also mindless in its storytelling and a bit uncomfortable in its racial undertones, though it’s played up to the ignorance of the rich girls than defining a group.
Material Girls was directed by Martha Coolidge who sadly enough was the woman behind the camera for the underrated 1980s comedy, Real Genius before moving onto helming several television shows including “Psych” and “CSI”.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 1.75/5
All the features from the DVD have been ported over:
Feature Commentary – Director Martha Coolidge provides an informative track as she tries to give the film more substance than it actually has, explains the different areas of L.A. she shot at and spends some time praising the Duff sisters as well.
Getting to Know Hilary and Haylie as the Marchetta Sisters (9:42; SD) – This is a basic featurette where the sisters talk about working together for the first time mixed in with some behind-the-scenes footage.
Cast of Characters: The Making of Material Girls (9:56; SD) is an EPK featurette in which the cast and crew try to pitch why we should see the movie by spelling out the premise and introducing the cast.
Material Girls Music Montage (2:21; SD) – I’m not quite sure what the purpose of this is, just scenes from the movie, and some behind-the-scenes footage, put against the Duff’s version of the Madonna song.
Last up is the Music Video: Hilary Duff – “Playing with Fire” (3:11; SD) and the Theatrical Trailer (2:18; HD).
VIDEO – 3.5/5
Material Girls is presented in its original 2.40 aspect ratio and for the first time in 1080p high definition. All in all it’s a good looking film but I did notice many instances of dust and dirt marks throughout so obviously it wasn’t given much attention which isn’t surprising since it’s a cheap catalogue title the studio can dump on the market place. However, the detail level is good and colors, including the girly pinks and purples, are well balanced.
AUDIO – 3.5/5
The DTS-HD Master Audio track isn’t anything spectacular but acceptable. The music makes the most use out of each channel while dialogue is OK but could at times be a little soft. I’ve heard better compared with other catalogue releases but if you don’t already own the DVD and are a fan of Hilary Duff then maybe it’ll be a good upgrade.
OVERALL – 2/5
Overall, Material Girls has rightly been forgotten in the annals of time. It’s a film with no redeemable characters – despite the main characters making a transformation at the end – cardboard cutouts for the supporting cast and a story that’s uninteresting and predictable. I know some might pick this up when it’s on the Wal Mart shelf for $10 but unless you’re a huge fan of either of the Duffs and are easily amused, just pass it on by and spend your money more wisely.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2.