I’ve mocked Hilary Duff and her sister before, for appearing in movies with 19 credited producers, but really, there are plenty of times (in fact, most of the time, I’d say) when she is not the biggest problem in whatever piece of entertainment she is appearing. Beauty & The Briefcase, which debuted on the ABC Family Channel last April, is one such exhibit. Based on Daniella Brodsky’s cloying novel Diary of a Working Girl, the movie is so nakedly a stab at modern-young-chick relevance and Duff’s stab at The Devil Wears Prada and Confessions of a Shopaholic-style up-with-sisters! appeal that it induces sighs fairly early out of the gate, and never deviates much if at all from its wan lessons of faux-empowerment.
Duff stars as Lane Daniels, a young, fresh-faced, wide-eyed and ambitious journalist who dreams of writing for her favorite magazine, Cosmopolitan. When she finally gets the chance to pitch an article to Cosmo‘s hard-edged editor Kate White (Jaime Pressly), it is enthusiastically received — with the condition that Lane must live out her (dubious) pitch of switching careers to bag a guy. Kate tasks Lane with landing a corporate job, and then dating as many eligible co-workers as possible. As Lane navigates her way through her new world, she meets first Tom (Michael McMillan), then Seth (Matt Dallas), and finally Liam (Chris Carmack), a dashing music producer working outside her office. Dating him would mean breaking the rules, so, you know, what’s a girl to do — live her life, or adhere rigidly and irrationally to some cockamamie scheme?
Saddled with desultory voiceover that reinforces points and feelings already established twice onscreen, Beauty & The Briefcase is an exercise in rah-rah obviousness, nothing more than pabulum for young girls. The acting isn’t all that bad, really, but director Gil Junger’s stylistic stabs at effervescence and chirpy
buoyancy come across as insipid and contrived, and the dialogue is terrible to boot. Really, something like a repeat viewing of A Cinderella Story is probably the better option for, um, more discerning Duff fans.
Housed in a regular plastic Amaray case, Beauty & The Briefcase comes to DVD presented in 1.78 anamorphic widescreen, with a Dolby digital 5.1 audio track and optional English and Spanish subtitles. Special features include… nothing, sadly. Which is strange, because one would have thought that Duff was better with self-promotion, and tossing hungry post-tweenage fans a few interview morsels here and there. To purchase the DVD via Amazon, click here. D+ (Movie) D+ (Disc)