The Marchetta sisters Ava (Haylie Duff) and Tanzie (Hilary Duff) live the good life. They are heiresses to one of the most successful cosmetics companies, which since their father's death is run by their uncle Tommy Katzenbach (Brent Spiner). All they have to do is make an appearance here and there. After a television exposé about the company's night cream causing scarring and disfigurement, the girls' credit cards are frozen and cosmetics queen rival Fabielle (Angelica Huston) makes a take-over bid for the company. In a bid to clear the company name, Ava and Tanzie investigate the matter with the help of a legal aid worker (Lukas Haas) and Marchetta company chemist (Marcus Coloma).
Review by Louise Keller:
The biggest laugh comes when the glamorously decked, newly destitute Marchetta sisters are asked by the employment agency, if they can type. Yeah, 10 IMs per minute, the girls retort. Boom boom! A few funny lines spool out intermittently ('from Tiffanys to Target in one single night'; 'I've put on 2lbs since I've been poor...'; 'I've heard about the bus - they pee on the seats'), but it's the inane-ness of Material Girls that grates. While Hollywood sisters Haylie and Hilary Duff tell each other money doesn't bring happiness, their actions speak otherwise. The message that floats from this poor-little-rich girl fantasy, is that it's ok to be an airhead, and to focus on yourself. Things will pan out. There is no journey or realisation that life is anything more than pretty baubles and stilettos. Just a series of skits and caricature characters, with an ever-changing fashion parade for the Duff sisters.
It should be said that the Marchetta sisters' idea of being destitute may be slightly different from that of most. Their belief is that they are owed everything, including the services of a pro-bono lawyer when they are not happy with the multi-million dollar take-over bid for their failing company. The bid is from Fabiella (Angelica Huston), the scheming head of rival cosmetic firm, who looks like a Greek goddess as she floats onto the screen wearing a flowing white Grecian gown. Angelica the Fabulous looks embarrassed, however, as she delivers her dialogue. Brent Spiner plays the girls' hammy uncle and is overdirected by Martha Coolidge.
There are red carpets events, photographers and a snazzy red Mercedes sports, cucumber face masks, a house fire, two saccharine romances and false eyelashes. Plus Ava and Tanzie playing investigator to get to the bottom of the scandal. First they clean toilets. And (inspired by Erin Brockovich) Tanzie squeezes into a push up bra, animal print top and tight little denim skirt to dazzle the dumb office clerk for the company's filing cabinets keys. She ends up in the clink with three tough hookers, and, wait for it.... in no time at all, has a captive audiences, as she shares the secrets of soft skin. Yeah, right.
It could have been a fun fantasy romp. Instead, it's artificial-tasting lollypop - like the beauty-is-skin-deep industry in which it is set.
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MATERIAL GIRLS (PG)
CAST: Hilary Duff, Haylie Duff, Anjelica Huston, Brent Spiner, Marcus Coloma, Alejandro Rose-Garcia, Maria Conchita Alonso, Lukas Haas, Ty Hodges, Natalie Lander, Obba Babatunde
PRODUCER: Hilary Duff, Susan Duff, David Faigenblum, Milton Kim, Eve LaDue, Mark Morgan, Guy Oseary, Tim Wesley
DIRECTOR: Martha Coolidge
SCRIPT: John Quintance, Jessica O'Toole, Amy Rardin
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Johnny E. Jensen
EDITOR: Steven Cohen
MUSIC: Jennie Muskett
PRODUCTION DESIGN: James H. Spencer
RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Hoyts
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 14, 2006