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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Beauty & the Briefcase

February 16th, 2011

Beauty & the Briefcase - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

Hilary Duff shot to fame in the early part of the new millennium thanks to her staring role as Lizzie McGuire. Now she's returning to TV in a ABC Family movie. It's also a romantic comedy TV movie plus romantic comedy means my expectations are a little on the low side, but I have been pleasantly surprised before.

The Movie

Hilary Duff stars as Lane Daniels, a young writer looking to make it in a tough business. So far she's only had one published story, but it's a start. She is also a young lady looking for love, with very exacting standards, referred to as the Checklist, which she tells us about from time to time. After getting her foot in the door at Cosmo thanks to her friend, Joanne, her latest assignment combines her two pursuits. She's to get a job in a big corporation and find out what it's like to date businessmen. Lots of businessmen.

But of course, this is a romantic comedy, so you know there are going to be some complications. For one, there's Liam, who is not a businessman, so she's not allowed to date him, but he fits so many of her checklist items. Then there's Seth, who is one of her co-workers and not someone she would normally date, but he's part of the assignment. And then she has to deal with her demanding boss, Tom, while trying to maintain her cover at work, and write the story, and find true love, etc.

Will she be able to do all of that, and maybe even learn a bit about herself in the process?

If you've seen more than two romantic comedies, you can probably guess.

While watching this movie I was reminded of two others I reviewed in the past. The first was How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days, for obvious reasons, and Maneater, for not so obvious reasons. The first film shares a lot of the basic setup (woman getting into a relationship to write a magazine article about it) and I found it particularly painful to watch. The reason for that is simple, the two leads had little to no chemistry. On the other hand, this film reminded me of Maneater because both focused on a character that wasn't exactly sympathetic. What they were doing is playing with people's hearts for less than noble reasons. Sarah Chalke was playing a gold digger, simple as that. She was looking to marry a rich man to avoid getting a job, which is an atrocious thing to do. However, I liked the movie more than I thought I would, because the cast had so much charm. The same thing happens here.

Hilary Duff's character is not very sympathetic, especially in the beginning. She lies to get a job, she dates a whole lot of men leading them on, she rather superficial in her Checklist items, etc. But she has enough charm to carry the movie, for the most part. Yes, it is still a romantic comedy and it is predictable and contrived at times, but it was also nominated for the People Choice Award for Favorite Family TV Movie, so that isn't a deal-breaker for a lot of people. It wasn't a deal-breaker for me, but I am a fan of the genre.

The Extras

There are no extras on either DVD or Blu-ray. On the other hand, the Blu-ray looks surprisingly good. Since it was a TV movie, I wasn't expecting it to look this good. Colors are great, details sharp, blacks are deep. Granted, it's not a visual effects laden blockbuster, so it's not the kind of movie you would use to show off your home theater system, but it is still a great looking movie. Likewise, it's a dialogue driven comedy, so there's not a lot of dynamic effects in the audio track, but it is very clear. Finally, the Blu-ray costs only $2 more, so it's hard to argue with that price.

The Verdict

If you grew up watching Lizzie McGuire and remained a fan of Hilary Duff, you are probably the perfect target demographic for Beauty & the Briefcase. It's a charming, if fluffy, romantic comedy and it if worth checking out for fans of the genre. If you are interested in buying, the Blu-ray is the better deal over the DVD due to the reasonable price and superior technical specs.

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