Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Material Girls

Illustration for article titled Material Girls

There are a lot of shocking moments in Material Girls, the Hilary and Haylie Duff vehicle about two cosmetics-company heiresses who almost lose their family fortune. There's the moment an obscenely out-of-place Anjelica Huston first comes onscreen as the girls' rival. Or Hilary Duff's embarrassing chola impersonation—a joke that fell flat even in a theater full of Duff's tween fans. (Granted, there were no cholas in the theater.) Then there's the four-way split-screen used to bring energy to the pivotal telephone-research montage. But the most shocking moment comes during the closing credits, when it's revealed that not one, not two, but three screenwriters were responsible for a plot that someone seems to have hastily slapped together after taking a walk around a Sephora outlet while listening to "Beat Of My Heart" on loop.

Material Girls is supposed to be a riches-to-rags-to-riches story: Two vain, pampered girls lose everything they have, learn some kind of lesson about how being vain and pampered isn't ideal, and then change their ways and make their fortune back through hard work. Problem is, the "rags" part never fully happens. Hilary and Haylie go from text-messaging on Swarovski-crystal-encrusted Sidekicks in their Beverly Hills mansion to text-messaging on Swarovski-crystal-encrusted Sidekicks in the two-bedroom apartment of their former maid, but their fortune and their sense of entitlement remains virtually the same throughout. To be clear: The movie isn't about the girls losing their $200 million inheritance; it's about their inheritance being devalued to $60 million. Apiece. So it's pretty hard to sympathize when their corporate credit card is temporarily declined, especially when the girls bitch out the hotel clerk who's politely declining it.


It's unclear exactly which pair of vapid celebrity sisters Hilary and Haylie Duff based their vapid Marchetta sisters on—maybe the Hiltons, or the Olsens, or even themselves—but their portrayal isn't some light send-up of materialism. It's a light endorsement of it. Though the Duffs are bratty, bitchy, and shallow throughout the movie (typical exchange: Hilary: "This car is so hard to get out of." Haylie: "That's the point. Anybody with baby weight can't fit."), they're rewarded in the end with cute new boyfriends, total control of their cosmetics company, and even more riches. Being a material girl apparently pays well.

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