Brain-numbing movies in August are as common as the hum of cicadas and tropical humidity. And, like both of those things, they can put you right to sleep.
This time around, in "Material Girls" -- doesn't the title make you the teensiest bit anxious? -- the tranquilizer is the Duff sister act: those lovable teens, Haylie and Hilary. They're sisters in the movie too, a pair of hyper-affected, beyond-spoiled brats who are into makeup and IMing, and flash white teeth and creamy-white-moisturized skin (Dad left them a troubled cosmetics company). Beats taking the SATs.
These celebrity wannabe/heiresses are about as chic as last year's hockey playoffs. Mom is partly to blame because she ran off to Egypt and calls herself Isis now.
Madonna's anthem was only good-naturedly arrogant, but the SoCal siblings, like the film's script, are arrogant, ghastly immature and offensive to any audience that isn't all of the above. Hilary, as Tanzie Marchetta, is at her restrained best pretending she's a hooker who gives skin-care tips to a trio of hags spending a night in the holding tank. But it's for sure that acting wasn't anyone's priorities in "Material Girls."
Overacting was. Haylie, as Ava, the older sister, doesn't shut up from start to finish. Her soon-to-be-afianced is a hunky actor who stars in a TV series called "Long Island." When the boyfriend meets a girl at a party, he asks, "You want me to sign your abs?" OMG, Haylie, dump this guy! Instead, he dumps her.
Anjelica Huston is Fabiella, the cosmetics queen who's drooling to take over the down-in-the-dumps Marchetta company. She wanders in and out of the film, spicing up her lines by employing a patois of Italian, French and German.
The dialogue doesn't improve with the arrival of Lukas Haas playing a pro-bono attorney who becomes involved with the girls to help them clear their late father's name (apparently one of Dad's creams caused problems with a lady's .... uh, let's forget that). Haas smiles, and moves his arms and legs from time to time, which indicates he's alive onscreen. He gets frustrated when Haylie backs out of a kiss because she doesn't like his cat.
"You're all frosting and no cupcake," he says.
The same could apply to "Material Girls."
MPAA rating: PG for language and rude humor.
An MGM release. Director Martha Coolidge. Writers John Quaintance, Jessica O'Toole, Amy Rardin. Director of photography Johnny E. Jensen. Editor Steven Cohen. Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes.
In general release.