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In 'Girls,' Duffs have fun at their own expense

``Material Girls" stars Hilary and Haylie Duff as Tanzie and Ava Marchetta , cosmetics heiresses forced to live by their not-so-quick wits when their Maybelline-like company is threatened with bankruptcy.

One of the company's new face creams, you see, turns out to cause horrific rashes. Fashion emergency! Tangled in litigation and terrorized by the stock market, the board of directors tries to sell the company to a competitor. The only obstacle to the sale? The sisters Marchetta, intent on saving their late father's beloved firm. He's credited with ``creating Madonna's first look. And then her second and third looks."

This not unclever premise allows singer/actor Hilary and her lesser-known older sister Haylie to satirize the lifestyle of the rich and fabulous. The Hilton sisters come to mind first, but, of course, there's another pair of rich, beautiful sisters in the Duffs' crosshairs. Themselves.

The sisters have great fun skewering their own vanities. Shortly after learning their company is going bankrupt, Tanzie and Ava manage to burn down their mansion, misplace their Mercedes, and have their credit cards declined. Rebuffed from the Ritz, they move into the apartment of their loyal maid. Further misadventures ensue as the sisters learn to ride a city bus (they try to tip the driver), do housework (instead of cleaning dishes, Ava simply throws them away) and even -- gasp -- get a job (when asked if they can type, the sisters pull out their mobile phones and start pecking away).

The movie features some wonderful local color. In the midst of escaping her burning house, Tanzie braves the flames to save her father's TiVo. As they fight to discover the truth about the toxic face cream, the girls get inspiration from Julia Roberts's performance in ``Erin Brockovich."

``Material Girls" isn't as witty, stylish, or sophisticated as the similarly themed ``The Devil Wears Prada." ``Prada" was a thinly veiled portrait of Vogue magazine and was pitched to Vogue readers. ``Material Girls" is pitched to the Seventeen crowd, and it succeeds on its own terms. These days, even pre teens live in a material world.

Michael Hardy can be reached at

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