Duff Raises her Voice, Latifah Drives Her Taxi

Christian critics review Raise Your Voice, Taxi, Friday Night Lights, The Motorcycle Diaries and Bright Young Things; offer more on Monty Python's The Life of Brian, Shark Tale, Ladder 49, and Shaun of the Dead; and take a new look at the significance of Blade Runner.

Is there any moviegoing target audience that Hollywood pursues more aggressively than teenage girls? The last two years has felt like a "princess parade," with The Princess Diaries, The Lizzie McGuire Movie, Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, Freaky Friday, Ella Enchanted, Mean Girls, A Cinderella Story, and First Daughter. Tabloids hype up a "rivalry" between teen screen queens Hilary Duff and Lindsay Lohan. And the box office shows that audiences aren't yet weary of fashion plate heroines fighting their way to the top of their class or into a royal inheritance.

In Raise Your Voice, Terri Fletcher (Duff) is an aspiring singer who faces more realistic challenges than those conquered by other recent heroines. While still recovering from the shock of a death in the family, Terri gets an offer from a Los Angeles music school. Her father forbids it, but she pursues it anyway, only to find that her dream isn't going to be achieved easily.

The fact that Terri's a Christian girl is pleasing several Christian film critics, but the fact that she defies her father's authority is bothering others.

"The plot has its weak moments, and the group performances sometimes come off as forced, but overall the film accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do: inspire," says Joan Brasher (Christianity Today Movies). "In a sea of teen movies not fit for adults, much less teens, this is a movie I would feel comfortable taking my 14-year-old niece to, and that's a good thing indeed." (Brasher talked with the film's director, Sean McNamara, about his willingness to feature details of Terri's faith in his storytelling.)

Rhonda Handlon (Plugged In) compliments Terri's relatively clean character, who "loves deeply, encourages the underdog, is hard-working ...

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Duff Raises her Voice, Latifah Drives Her Taxi
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