On Sunday, March 5th, 2000, everyone was doing cringe-worthy Budweiser frog impressions – “Whassup?” – The Sims were hijacking reality, everyone awaited NSYNC’s No Strings Attached, and a TV movie called Life-Size starring 13-year-old Lindsay Lohan and a pre-America’s Next Top Model Tyra Banks aired that night as part of ABC’s The Wonderful World of Disney. Yet it wasn’t until the Mannequin-inspired family film moved to the Disney Channel a month later, with ad nauseum repeats, that it became a true sensation.
A part of me is convinced the real spell of this movie wasn’t the one Casey Stuart (Lohan) accidentally cast on Eve (Banks) but rather the undeniable, snappy earworm George Blondheim and Mark Rosman conjured for the movie’s soundtrack. “Be a Star” is as sinister as it is sappy because once you hear it you’ll turn into a head-bopping, perma-smiley Pollyanna who will never get that ditty out of your head.
In truth, while the theme song is insidious the real appeal comes from Eve’s infectious personality, amusing naivete, fashion badassery, and the sheer fantasy of having a young girl’s beloved doll come to life and not kill anyone. Not only does Eve bring Casey back from her edgy, depressive rebellion – which reads more brat than bereaved – everyone’s favorite fashion doll also taps into her own humanity and sacrifices her own love for that of girls everywhere who need help.
However, in re-watching Life-Size I did find myself amused by the Disney darkness propping up the story – Casey attempts to resurrect her mom with a spell from a witchcraft book she shoplifted but instead animates a plastic doll because of her dad’s meddling, manhunting co-worker and a little synthetic hair. Whew! Zombie mommy was a near miss.
Fast-forward 18-years and Freeform delivers the long-awaited sequel, Life-Size 2. Make no mistake though, this isn’t a G-rated follow-up geared towards the kids of those who first watched Eve appear after Casey recited the words, “Zomba, tarka, ishtu, nebarim.” Oh no, this follow-up is for those Millenial-mamas (and I don’t just mean mothers). This is your nostalgic sequel with a whole lotta extra. It’s more Hallmark holiday romance than family friendly fling.
Eve is still loveable and oblivious (she has a whole ‘nother idea about “Bottomless Mimosas”!), and her fashion is even more delish – at one point she looks like a beautiful, iridescent, cotton-candy rainbow-colored unicorn and I envy Tyra’s ability to carry that off because there is no way in hell I ever could. But there’s also a lot more adult humor and content as Eve returns to inspire Grace Manning (the always fantastic Francia Raisa), a twenty-something toy store heiress with a chip on her shoulder and more than one drunken escapade who, upon first waking next to Eve, – a nod to the first film – thinks she must’ve been blackout drunk the night before and Eve is a one night stand she can not remember.
The movie is a perfect fit and representation of Freeform and I love that it landed there. Just understand exactly what that means and don’t let the littles watch – or else you may find yourself answering a lot of questions, like when Eve breathlessly tells a super cute chef who gets her completely twitterpated, “I want you to be my extra special friend.”
That said, the movie is mushy, adorable, funny and pays homage to the first – though sadly without Lindsay – while knowing exactly who its real audience is while paying tribute to how far those fans have come in the last 18 years. My 21-year-old daughter Casey (Yup, Casey) and I watched this together and ADORED every minute – though we did miss Lindsay’s Casey – not even a cameo!
No question, Life-Size 2 is a love letter to the fans – with an epic update of that earworm song – that will leave you grinning. You’ll feel both little and grown at the same time because Tyra nailed the perfect balance of sentimental and sophistication for her audience. And why wouldn’t she? After all, she is your special friend.
You can catch Life-Size 2 on Freeform. It debuts tonight at 9/8 C, but you can also catch it On Demand and in repeats as part of Freeform’s 25 Days of Christmas.
Let us know what you think of Life-Size 2? Were you a fan of the original? Let us know in the comments below!