Finally, the folks at Disney TV have found the perfect career path for drop-dead gorgeous supermodels who are longing to break into acting: star in a family movie where they can play Barbie-type dolls that magically come to life. That’s what’s on tap for Tyra Banks, who portrays the human version of a perfect doll named Eve in the lighter-than-cottage cheese telepic “Life-Size.”
In this “Wonderful World of Disney” presentation, a young girl (“The Parent Trap’s” charming tyke thesp Lindsay Lohan) has to deal with the consequences of bringing a fashion doll to life. You can’t really give scribes Stephanie Moore and Mark Rosman credit for originality. We’ve seen this sort of thing before — the much superior “The Indian in the Cupboard” and the mindless “Mannequin” movies spring to mind — but one can never underestimate the appeal of pic’s premise to preteen girls who’ve made “Sabrina” such a hit on ABC.
Lohan plays Casey Mitchell, a lonely girl, who — horror of horrors — doesn’t like to spend her free time shopping at the mall with her peers. Instead, she plays on her school’s football team and hopes to bring the spirit of her dead mother back to life by reading up on supernatural spells. And in the tradition of all family films where mom is dead or missing, the career-driven dad (Jere Burns) has little time for his daughter in his life.
Help arrives in the form of one very special doll called Eve, who as a result of one of those wacky spells, comes to life in Casey’s bedroom. Tyra Banks definitely has what it takes to play a living doll, but the lesson she teaches our poor isolated girl is certainly questionable. Under her influence, Casey learns to pay more attention to her girlie side, and opts to hang out with the airheads at the mall. Not exactly the kind of message parents may want their daughters to take to heart.
Nevertheless, there are some charming moments along the way. Banks is hilarious in a restaurant scene where she discovers the wonders of eating a nice Italian meal for the first time and pops whole pads of butter in her mouth. (Can you imagine any other skinny supermodel doing that?) She’s also quite good at wreaking havoc at Casey’s dad’s law office and bringing the house down at a dreadful lawyers’ party by singing Eve’s catchy theme song “Be a Star.”
Eve’s journey gets a big assist from Maya Mani’s haute couture doll outfits, and tech credits are pretty smooth. Next time, though, maybe they could come up with a family film where the poor kid doesn’t have to cope with the loss of a parent by chanting voodoo spells in her bedroom.