5 out of 10
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Hilary Duff as Cadet Kelly Collins
Christy Carlson Romano as Cadet Captain Jennifer Stone
Gary Cole as General 'Sir' Joe Maxwell
Shawn Ashmore as Cadet Major Brad Rigby
Aimee Garcia as Cadet Sergeant Gloria Ramos
Linda Kash as Samantha Collins Maxwell
Nigel Hamer as Adam Collins
Sarah Gadon as Amanda
Andrea Lewis as Cadet Carla Hall
Joe Matheson as General Archer
Beverlee Buzon as Cadet Grace Carson
Dalene Irvine as Marla
Avery Saltzman as Kevin
Christopher Tai as Senior Cadet Officer
Josh Wittig as Cadet Bugler
Commentary by actors Christy Carlson Romano and Aimee Garcia on selelcted scenes
Behind the scenes featurette
DVD-ROM "Boot Camp" Party Planner
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Running Time: 100 Minutes
This film was originally released on the Disney Channel in 2002. The following is from the DVD cover:
"Hilary Duff stars as Kelly Collins, an artistic, fashion-minded teen who's forced to go from flashy fab to olive drab at her new stepdad's military academy in this delightful comedy. As the clumsiest, most clueless recruit ever to botch basic training, Kelly seems to be fighting an uphill battle to fit in. But it's all-out war when she butts heads with Cadet Captain Stone (Christy Carlson Romano), a tough-as-nails, by the book "commanding officer" determined to break her spirit. See how once-carefree Kelly keeps it together amidst endless rules and regulations to win Stone's respect, and still manages to leave her own unique mark on the school."
Cadet Kelly is rated TV-G.
Let's face it, I'm not the target audience for a Hilary Duff movie. And sure enough, I wasn't enthralled by Cadet Kelly. But as a DVD reviewer for this site, I have to watch a lot more Hilary Duff movies than I ever would have otherwise, so I'm kind of an unintentional Hilary Duff authority (pathetic as that may be). That being said, I found Cadet Kelly to be a unique teeny bopper film. First of all, Hilary Duff is more animated and silly than I think I've ever seen her. She's quirky and free-spirited to the point that she's almost rebellious in this movie. She mocks people, talks back, and generally acts silly. Because of that, I kind of feel this is one of her better roles. The other unique thing about Cadet Kelly is that it features a military school at the center of the film. How many movies for pre-teen girls have you seen set at a military school? The film does a good job of showing life there without making fun of it or casting it in a bad light. The drill team routines with the rifles are definitely impressive. Ironically, this movie was made by the producers of Private Benjamin. Cadet Kelly ends up being a pre-teen, Disney Channel version of that movie.
The cast in the film is OK. Hilary Duff, as already mentioned, is better than she usually is in her movies. The only thing unbelievable about her character (OK, maybe not the only thing) is that she takes being put into military school way too well. It was a pretty awful thing for a mother and stepfather to do to a kid, yet she takes it like it's no big deal. Christy Carlson Romano makes a good nemesis as Cadet Captain Jennifer Stone. You know she and Cadet Kelly will be friends by the end, but their private war between each other offers up some amusing moments. Shawn Ashmore, who played Iceman in X-Men, plays Cadet Major Brad Rigby. He's little more than a pretty face in this role, but he does some impressive work twirling the rifle as the leader of the drill team. Finally there's Gary Cole as General 'Sir' Joe Maxwell. I have to admit that it's hard to see him as anything other than the boss from Office Space or Mike Brady.
Who should see Cadet Kelly? I would say pre-teen girls or any current fan of Hilary Duff. It's not really made for anyone else.
There are a few bonus features included on this DVD:
Commentary by actors Christy Carlson Romano and Aimee Garcia – The two actresses provide commentary for the film. It would have been better with Hilary Duff included, but they have enough interesting things to say on their own. They discuss the training, side stories that happened while shooting, and other such stuff. They seem to run out of things to say by the end, but it's still OK.
Behind the scenes featurette – This brief featurette shows the training that the girls went through to prepare for the film. They show Duff twirling rifles, learning the moves for a soldier, and more.
Challenge game – This bizarre game requires paper, pens, shoes, and multiple players. It's way too elaborate for younger viewers and a heck of a lot of effort to play.
The Bottom Line:
Hilary Duff fans should enjoy Cadet Kelly, but unless you're a pre-teen girl, pass on this.