Sunday, February 26, 2006

Movie Review - "Life-Size"

This is a movie which I started watching on TV one day when I was in a hotel room. I initally started watching it kind of as a joke, but by the end I had gotten completely swept up in it. In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit I never saw the first half hour of this movie. Also this review contains spoilers.

Life-Size was a movie originally made for the Disney network in the year 2000. The primary star of this movie is a young Lindsay Lohan (character name Casey), who plays the daughter of a widower (Jere Burns - character name Ben). Obviously upset over the death of her mother, she somehow purchases or obtains an "Eve" doll, which is like a Barbie doll, but African-American. Then, using a book of spells she has obtained, she performs an incantation which brings the doll to life! As a human! Played by Tyra Banks! Eve worms her way into Casey's life, as she is seemingly the perfect woman, and her father Ben is quite smitten with her. Ben thus hires her as his secretary, much to the dismay of Casey who is obviously upset that this new woman may be taking the place of her recently (?) deceased mother. Anyways, though she claims to be perfect at everything, she has no knowledge of offices or typing or anything, and generally does a poor job. Though she does stay perky throughout the whole experience.

The movie proceeds in a similar fashion, with Eve claiming to be perfect at everything, and then failing miserably when attempting to do it (obviously, being a doll, she does not have much experience doing things in the real world). In addition, Ben, always busy at work, has apparently lost the time he used to spend with Casey, as he has missed all of her football games during the season. At the end of the film, with Casey performing in her championship match, Ben is held up at work for a meeting!!! Will he blow off the meeting to watch his daughter play (Oh the suspense!). In the end, Eve performs an incantation to make her a doll again, but not before everybody has learned valuable lessons:
1. Eve learns that she doesn't always have to be so perfect
2. Ben learns the value of spending time with his daughter
3. Casey learns to open up to people, and move on with her life after her mom's death.

Very touching film. Okay, so what about the quality? In my opinion, this film is highly entertaining.


One thing that struck me as I was watching this film, was just how much Lindsay Lohan has fallen of the rails lately. I will not pile on, or recount the woes of her later years, but she was extremely cute in this movie, and she had pretty good chops for someone of her age. Normally I've found that the best you can ask for from kid actors in movies is that they look reasonably cute, and aren't so bad at acting that they totally remove you from the movie (e.g. Jake Lloyd in Phantom Menace). Lindsay comfortably exceeds both standards.

In addition, I was extremely wary of Tyra Banks in this film, as I have normally found that model to actress transition, ah, does not go smoothly. Of course, she is playing a life-size Barbie doll, and she obviously has the physical attributes necessary to play the part, but still, I was wary. Fortunately, she acquits herself quite well in this role, which is honestly not particularly demanding. She does seem to have a decent comedic timing, and she has the whole perfect, perky tone completely down. In addition, towards the end of the movie, there's a dramatic scene with her and Lindsay Lohan, where Casey learns to love Eve, which I expected to be completely cringe-worthy, but both actors did a pretty good job with it. The other actors in the movie, mostly accomplished character actors, perform well.

The best scene in this movie occurs when Ben takes Eve to an office party with him. The office party is going fairly drab, until the band playing invites people to come up and sing. Naturally Eve goes up to sing...and the song she chooses is the "Eve" commercial jingle. I say without one hint of irony, that the song, "Be A Star", is completely awesome. I had it stuck in my head for days after I saw the movie. In addition, at the very end of the movie, over the credits, there is a sing/dance along with the movie's cast to this song, and it rules.


This movie has a very simple, highly predictable plot, and from that standpoint is completely standard fare for this type of Dinsey movie. In addition, the dialogue and characters are also fairly simplistic/wooden, much like the rest of the movie. What separates this movie from the rest of this Disney fare is partially the good acting from the leads and supporting cast (and like I said I was particularly impressed by Lohan), but mostly the overwhelming positive energy that this film puts forth. I DEFY you to watch this movie and not crack a smile...if you do, you probably have no soul. The youthful exuberance and infectious innocence that this movie exudes produce just a completely feel-good experience. Watch this movie, get swept up in the moment, bask in the cuteness, and just reflect in the joy of youth. This is not a movie to be watched with a critical eye at all, but if you want a really cute movie you can just turn off your brain and enjoy, this movie comes with high recommendations.

By far the best Made for Disney TV movie I've ever seen. 8/10.

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Blogger Megan said...

FYI - Casey is given the Eve doll as a gift from her father's new girlfriend. She really hates dolls, actually. She also is using the spell to bring her mother back from the grave. However, one of Eve's hairs ends up in her mother's hairbrush (due to the same girlfriend), effectively spoiling her plan. Just thought you'd want to know the rest of the story.

2:41 PM  
Blogger davefrost said...

greg. there was a tv movie disney made called summer switch or something, with rider strong as a rich kid, and a lot of the kids from the mighty ducks, where a rich kid and a poor kid switch places. i remember it fondly.

9:40 PM  

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