Tonight, Tyra's seventeenth cycle of America's Next Top Model, the All-Star cycle, premieres on the CW. In this cycle, Tyra will coach her all-stars not only how to model, but how to turn themselves into personal "brands," which includes acting, singing and more. And so it seems all too fitting that today, we look back at a special part of Tyra's journey to becoming a "brand": Playing an actual piece of merchandise in the 2001 Lindsay Lohan vehicle
premiered as a made-for-TV movie on The Disney
Channel ten years ago. It stars a young, post-Parent Trap
Lohan as a naive tomboy who tries to use dark magic to bring back her
dead mom, and a youngish, pre-America's Next Top Model
Tyra Banks as a
brainless Barbie doll brought to life by that magic. It is a pinnacle
of modern cinema...'s assumption that children are idiots, from its preposterous concept to its
corny dialogue to its questionable lessons about friendship, stardom and sorcery. It is also
full of Tyra faces, fashions and acting fails. Life-Size
shall never be forgotten. I know that, the angel who put the entire
film on YouTube knows that (watch and follow along!
) and now you too will know that. Here we go.
America's Next Top Model is available on Amazon Prime.
She hasn't aged a day!
The movie opens on "Eve," an alternate-universe black Barbie phenomenon, who
shares not just her voice with Tyra, but also her addiction to being
mediocre at multiple careers. Her mantra is "Be a star!" which she
accomplishes by being, alternately, a police woman and an office
assistant when she's not shining at "the ball."
Cut to the local middle school football game, where young Lindsay is
playing QB (lol, right) but her dumb, idiot pre-pubescent receiver,
played by some Devon Sawa-nnabe, misses the ball and loses the game
for EVERYONE. Lindsay is full of angst. She hates Sawa-nnabe, she hates dolls, she hates her coach and she hates THE WORLD!
Also hates hair ties.
The angst turns into silent
depression when she notices that her dad's massive, pubic goatee is
missing from the stands. Her dad, "Ben," is busy at work flirting with
his new assistant, who thinks "being a great dad" is sexy and that
sending a "birthday kiss" to her boss's daughter is a normal thing to
do. She's obviously here because of some special needs adult work
program. She also wants to get with Ben. We can tell by the way her
lilac suit's shoulder pads quiver when he's near. When the assistant
leaves, Ben's lawyer friend tells him to hit it, but Ben's sad eyes
tell us that he only wants to hit it with his dead wife. "MOVE ON!"
the friend says, because Ben's wife died what,
six months ago? Get over it, Ben. Tell your sad eyes everyone's tired
of your "mourning."
Back at home, Lil' Li-Lo resurrects a dinosaur in the shape of a
desktop PC so she can Ask Jeeves how to resurrect her dead mom. The
movie really dates itself when she finds a website that tells her
she'll find the answer she seeks ... IN A BOOK IN THE LOCAL LIBRARY.
The most trustworthy mysticism site on the WEB!
Ben comes home and they get in a fight about how Ben really needs to
"make partner at the firm" (one of my favorite movie lies that no one
in real life EVER says!) and that's why he missed her game. Lindsay
goes to bed and marvels at how having a Stupid Ben and a Dead Mom is
even worse than having a Michael and Dina Lohan. Nothing is
The next day, Lindsay Lohan's bitchy little bitch friends complain
that ever since her mom died, she's "totally ignored" them. "Yeah,
like, get over it already," one of these pre-pubescent urchins spits outs. They ask her red and beige fishing hat why it's been ignoring
them, and Lindsay's hat is like, "There's more to life than just
shopping, fellow ten-year-old using her allowance money on slap
bracelets." Then, in a psychic homage to her future self, baby Lindsay
immediately goes shop-lifting... for KNOWLEDGE! She goes to the book
store and decides to steal the Necronomicon, because it costs 150 big ones and what is
she, a chump? She's just a child who wants to bring her dead mom back
to life, and this book is the only logical conclusion to that problem.
Yep, this is the one! Totally gonna work. Foolproof.
(Maybe that necklace that real life adult Lindsay stole also had
magical powers? Did you ever think of THAT, the prosecution? The
defense RESTS!) Baby Lindsay leaves an "IOU" as her calling card. "Oh,
great, I'll never see HER again," says the bookstore owner about a
ten-year-old who just stole a book about dark magic. It's unclear
whether he means that she will soon be dead after exposure to all
those evil spells, but he seems unconcerned either way.
Before she can make a zombie-mom, Lindsay has to eat her birthday cake
with dumb ol' dad, who reminds her that the cake is her favorite,
"Double chocolate. Chocolate on the inside and chocolate on the
outside." (Foreshadowing that soon she will have a chocolate goddess
as her new best friend?) "DON'T TELL ME WHAT I LIKE AND DON'T LIKE,
DAD!" says Lindsay's gross chunky wristwatch. Her mouth is
full of cake and sadness: "I wish that mom could come back." This
starts a fight about her child psychologist's bad breath and whether
magic exists. Ben distracts Li-Lo from the fight by bribing her with
NFL tickets because he's #1 Dad. The ghost of Lindsay's dead mom tells
her to never give up on her dream. Just then, the doorbell rings. Hey,
look who it is!
OH, IT'S YOU, A PERSON I WAS NOT EXPECTING ALL ALL, HENCE MY FACE!
It's Ben's slutty assistant, who stopped by instead of
calling on the phone like an actual human would. She wants Ben to
"review her draft." What a disgusting euphemism, slutty assistant.
Slutsistant waltzes in like she owns the place and gives Lindsay a
birthday present because she "couldn't resist" (my ardent desire to
bone your dad). Hey, look, we finally got to the point of the movie:
THE GIFT IS AN EVE DOLL! Now this plot is really rolling, and all it
took was a grossly presumptuous and inappropriate gift from a tertiary
no-name character who barely knows this butch little ginger girl and
has no sense of human boundaries.
SPEAKING OF: Lindsay goes upstairs and prepares her "altar" to
resurrect her mom, which means putting a seashell on her dresser. Uh
oh, what if she accidentally brings a hermit crab back to life? Then
she gets out her mom's hairbrush (while whispering "mom's brush"
asks her mom to "be there for her one more time" (as a zombie). She's
about to say the "incantation" when Slut-sistant barges in to say
goodnight (convince a child to put in a good word with Dad so she can
do sex with him at an indeterminate point in the future).
"Oh, look at all the trophies you have!" this insufferable woman,
let's call her SHARON, says as she knocks down the entire upper shelf
like her arms are made of wood and glued together with overstaying
one's welcome. Lindsay runs out of the room with all her Wiccan props,
and that's when Sharon finds the Eve doll, whose hair's integrity is
the one casualty of Hurricane Sharon. "Oh, look at you," the adult
human woman says to the fake, non-living doll. She brushes the doll's
hair with the dead mom's brush, like that's a thing you would do to
someone else's doll in someone else's room with someone else's
Eve up on her display stand and then decides where to put it: On the
child's nightstand. This woman is a creep and I want her arrested.
After Sharon goes back to her alien pod, Lindsay FINALLY gets to do
her spell, which goes like this: "Zamba tarka ishtu neboreen!"
Seriously. Completely loyal phonetic transcription right there. Very
legit, very magic-sounding. She repeats it about eight or a hundred
times, and the book starts to glow, and so does the Eve doll.
The witchcraft book is glowing...
The doll is glowing...
Which means it's time to go to bed! Cut to the next morning: Lindsay is asleep, yet still mumbling the
incantation (what do you mean that's impossible?), and next to her is
I did an ancient, dark spell I didn't understand, and then something strange and unexpected happened? The fuuuuuuuu?
Tyra is wearing a three-piece, mid-riff-bearing
orange velour suit. It is glorious. Just like her face.
Truly, she has never looked more beautiful and terrifying.
Tyra's first words are these: "I'm Eve, and you're my special friend."
Just so there's no confusion that this is a tiny piece of plastic that
has been brought to life (and LIFE-SIZED!), not some psychotic woman
who snuck into a stranger's bedroom at night so she could sleep next
to a child. (Sharon does that.) "My ankles bend! I can move!" she
marvels. Lindsay pieces it all together like a whiz: "That was my only
chance, I'll never be able to bring her back. My mom! You're alive,
not her!" Then: "Why do I feel like I'm in a bad horror movie?"
Because you're in a bad, horriBLE movie. Not exactly the same, but
Eve uses her brand new brain to make model poses in the mirror while
Lindsay looks in the back of the Necromonicon and discovers that the
solution to her problem is in Volume Two. VOLUME TWO? So this is the
fault of those evil sorcerers, always looking for a cheap buck by
publishing their magical manifestos in multiple parts. Now what will
Eve discovers her first downside to being human: She has no clothes,
accessories or her "fashion trunk"! But she's got an even bigger
problem: Lindsay says it's all a big mistake (ohhh, so NOW dark magic
is a mistake?) and threatens that as soon as she gets her hands on
volume two, Eve will be "plastic" once more. The stakes are almost too
high to handle. WILL EVE EVER FIND HER FASHION TRUNK?
Lindsay puts on her bucket hat and leads Eve into the mean streets of
Small Town, USA, where Eve immediately discovers the dark side of
human existence: Garbage cans smell reeeeeally icky and chubby guys
throw their taco wrappers on the ground. Life Lesson One of Life-Size:
Being alive is bad to smell and look at.
Lindsay sends Eve in to ask for Volume Two, because if we've learned
anything so far, it's that Eve is intelligent and reliable in a pinch.
She goes inside, looks at one book like it's an alien artifact and
promptly tells the book store owner that Lindsay stole Volume One.
GOOD WORK, EVE! He follows Eve out of the store and Lindsay, whom I
can no longer deny is named "Casey" in this film, runs into the middle
of the street like an idiot to get away from him. Eve walks in front
of her and stops a truck from running over the small child with her SMIZE.
The power of SMIZE compels you!
Just then, Ben shows up and says he found the stolen Necronomicon at
the house, and thanks Eve for saving his child's life. "It's nothing,
I've been a police officer," she says like a bad joke because it is.
Eve flirts with Ben ("Are all the men here as handsome as you are?")
and it's hard to tell from his face if he's into it or SO into it that
he needs to change his pants. Casey pretends to faint because she's a
child addict (for attention).
When she wakes up, she's horrified to
learn that Eve wasn't just a nightmare. Classic movie scream. Ben
says that Casey shouldn't worry because the supermodel in the fuzzy
orange dress took care of her and has "medical training," and he
sounds like he believes himself! Good luck making partner, Professor
Always Making Sense. The three of them decide to go to the mall because who cares why, it's a
kid's movie and we wanna see the doll play dress-up. And fail at riding the escalator!
Heeeeeeeeeelp I'm pretty and useless!
Eve sees a prom
dress she "needs," and since she has no ID/money/soul,
Ben offers to loan her some cash. Then he says that she can stay in their
"guest house" until she "figures out what she wants to do." Casey is
pissed: "Go find a DOLLHOUSE." I'm pissed, too! This dad is worthless.
Inside the store, Eve picks out a bunch of ugly, rainbow-tinted crap
and begs Casey to "dress her." Montage time! She puts on a black
evening dress with bright blue butterflies on it, then a pair of white
bell bottoms, then a heinous red suit that comes with a top hat and a
nightstick, then some other costume-y crap, all while B*Witched's "C'est La Vie" plays in the
There goes my college fund.
Ben blows like $8,000 on this broad's insanely impractical
outfits. He's going to be so disappointed when they get home tonight
and he discovers that she lacks the anatomical lady-parts to "pay him
back" the way he's hoping.
At dinner, Eve looks at the menu and says "I can't read this!" My
hopes that we're about to watch a scene about adult learning
disabilities are dashed: The menu is in Italian, so Ben orders two of
the "special' and one "spaghetti," really putting his Italian to great
use. Ben is a moron. But that's good, because so is Eve. She
brain-gasms over a bread-roll and eats straight butter, which he finds
quaint and charming.
Now this is a woman I could settle down and build a life with!
Eve tells him about all her jobs (law enforcement, medicine,
office work...) and he's impressed, because Ben THE LAWYER doesn't suspect anyone could be a liar. So obviously he immediately hires Eve to
be his new secretary starting tomorrow. His generosity inspires Eve's
big empowerment speech, which I am completely certain Tyra wrote all
"My real purpose in life is to help girls. I strive to present a
positive image of womanhood, because I believe that girls everywhere
should know that all things are possible." Life Lesson Two of
Life-Size: "Positive image" means only caring about fashion and
saying dumb stuff constantly.
Like how it's too bad you've never been
married because you look "AWESOME!" in a wedding dress. SUCH a
positive life lesson about marriage for the girls!
Back at home, Lindsay uses her ancient computation machine to discover
that some other jive-talking youngster has the Necronomicon Vol. 2
checked out for another week. That doesn't work well for her baby
witchcraft schedule. She resorts to every baby's Plan B: Tell dad
everything! But dad doesn't believe that Eve is actually a doll who
came to life through an ancient, synthetic-hair-initiated witch spell.
GOD, parents can be such a DRAG! Meanwhile, Eve channel surfs and
learns more lessons about how to be a positive image for young girls,
like how to slap a man and how to shop on QVC.
The next day, Eve starts her new job at Dad's office. Her first task
is to "do some letters," but since she doesn't know how computers
work, she immediately gets sexually harassed by Ben's lawyer friend
who offers to give her some "tips." Life Lesson Three of Life-Size:
"Eve never says no to learning!"
Later, Eve gives Ben a massage (Ben
never says no to boner!) in his office because this is a children's
movie. Dumb ol' party-pooper Sharon comes in and says Eve "looks
familiar," because she recognizes a living black woman from the way
she looks like a non-living plastic black doll because Sharon is an
idiot AND a racist.
Eve screws up literally everything in the office,
but still manages to save the day, HER WAY, by giving the ugly office
manager a makeover so she can attract a cute boy.
I love being a female working professional!
Later, Lindsay gets pissed off that Eve is going to some lawyer party
and says, "Just because you're beautiful doesn't mean you get
everything you want! Your days are numbered! Literally!" I bet someone
said the exact same thing to Lindsay when she was in jail one of those
Eve shows up to the lawyer party with Ben's friend (let's call him
Steve, I guess) in some red and black monstrosity like it's the
freaking '93 Oscars.
Perfect work party attire!
Through her immature, nonsensical words and actions, Eve repeatedly
confirms that she is mentally stunted and possibly psychotic, but
Steve still wants to bone her. He says, "If you were staying at my
house, I'd never let you out," so Steve, whose name is actually Richie (which is WAY worse), is now
a rape-murderer. Richie asks Eve to go home with him, so she slaps him
and then she calls him handsome, because Life Lesson Four of
Life-Size: Sexual harassers are just friends you haven't made yet.
Then it's time for her big moment of the movie: Apropos of nothing,
Eve sings "Be A Star," a song about herself in third-person ("Eve
shines wherever she goes..."), in front of everyone. Everyone dances
along because Life Lesson Five of Life-Size: If you're pretty enough,
everyone will pretend you're not a self-involved a-hole with a rainbow
cupcake where your brain should be.
It's such a Tyra moment through and through: Self-involvement and self-promotion masquerading as role-modeling and empowerment. This entire sequence should be played at her funeral, so fully does it embody Tyra's point of view.
After the party, Ben and Eve are
about to make out, but Baby Lindsay barges in like such a c***-block
and ruins EVERYTHING. She's mad that Dad let Eve stay in "Mom's
special place," which is actually the guest house, not whatever gross
thing you're imagining.
The next day at football practice, Lindsay acts out by calling another
kid a "weiner head" (LOL, good one!) and gets benched. Then she and
Eve have the dumbest conversation in the history of fake dumb
Eve: Last night you had water in your eyes. It ran down your cheeks.
Baby Lindsay Lohan: It's called crying. You really don't get it, do
you? When people get sad it makes tears in their eyes.
Eve: Where do the tears come from?
BLL [points to throat]: In here.
(She means her chest/heart.)
Eve and Lindsay bond over how her dead mom got dead, and how hard and
uncertain and ultimately futile it is to be human because sadness and
death are inevitable. For a minute. THEN THEY GO HOME AND BURN
DOWN THE HOUSE!
I think we took the fatalism a little too far.
Eve cries about how she can't do anything right and she "needs [her]
fun and splash hot tub." She truly is the pinnacle of modern
womanhood. After a shower and before a tickle fight, Lindsay teaches
Eve that to be a role model she doesn't have to be perfect all the
time, and Eve teaches Lindsay that she needs to break down her walls
and let people in. SHE'S TEN! But she's pretty cool. I mean,
check out how she gets her email:
You've got new mail AND NOTHING ELSE MATTERS!!!!!!!!
Later, Eve sees a TV news report about how her line of dolls might get
canceled forever. Feel that heat under your collar? That's the stakes
The next day, it's time for Lindsay's championship football game, but
her helmet is depressed because Dad's goatee isn't in the stands. It's
back at work, waiting for The Big Partner Meeting to start. In a
moment of clarity, Ben decides to ditch his deposition and go to the
game, because Eve taught him what it means to be a real star, and
that's being a great dad! Ben gets to the game just in time to see
Casey get sacked. HARD. But he shakes his fists at her, lovingly, and
that's when the REAL magic begins. The magic of love conquering all!
Meanwhile, Eve is downtown at the toy store, visiting her own final
clearance sale. It's like a toy's version of "This is Your Life."
Could it be...?
woman in the toy store recognizes Eve, because why else would a
beautiful, tall black woman be in this tiny podunk town? She must be
the living incarnation of a plastic doll. The toy store woman has so
many questions! What happened? Where did she come from? How does she
pee? But Eve rushes off before Toy Store Lady can get answers.
Eve makes it to the end of the football game, just in time to watch
Lindsay and Weiner Head make the perfect play to win the game! ... SIKE.
What a week. Wait 'til my diary hears about THIS.
Weiner Head carries Casey's perfect pass an inch to the goal line,
then falls and time runs out. Her team loses the game! (Life Lesson Six of Life-Size: Boys don't make passes at girls who can't turn their passes into touchdowns.)
Whoa, did M.
Night Shyamalan direct this? Because that was a TWIST!
to Casey for not being a good dad and says her dead Mom would be mighty proud of that pass. Eve watches from the sidelines, and look at
There's water coming out of her eyes/heart. She touches her
eyeball to make sure.
Yep, she's a REAL GIRL NOW! Eve looks around at all
the real families feeling real feelings around her, and disappears.
Casey asks a stranger where Eve went, and the stranger tells Casey calmly,
"Oh, that nice looking woman? She just left. She said she found a
book, got someone to read it to her, and she's heading home." What a ludicrous sentence for a human being to say! But whatever, this movie left Logic Town the minute it took its
first step. Casey drags Ben away from the field saying, "There's no time to explain!
Eve's about to have a meltdown!"
means. Casey clearly understands more about this world than I do.
Eve arrives at Eve Doll Headquarters or something. She walks down a long
hallway decorated with photos of her doll-self, and then walks into a
big studio set up like a playtime theater. OR A TALK SHOW.
surveys her kingdom: There's her dreamhouse, her red corvette, the
mall, her servants' quarters and decides that it's time to go home. She looks at the ceiling and whispers, "Sun of suns, moon of moons, once awakened,
now to return."
She wants to be a doll again, where everything is easy and nothing hurts. Because if you're all the way plastic, you don't have a brain, and if you don't have a brain, you can't feel sad. It's the same reason pretty girls grow up to be Playboy
Bunnies and pretty boys grow up to be Ryan Seacrests.
Casey and Ben show up, and the security guard tells them he thought
Eve was "the woman from the photo shoots" and he sent her down the
hall to pick up her last paychecks. If it weren't on Disney, this
movie COULD take an awesome/sinister turn right there: What if Eve is
actually just a model who had a nervous breakdown and now believes
she is the doll she's been modeling for? And so she goes around to
young girls' houses, tricking them into believing she's the doll come
to life so they'll be her best friend and she can MURDER/STEAL them?
would be a great twist.
Instead, it's just an excuse for how Eve got into the building, and
Eve really is the doll come to life. Casey and Ben make it to the talk
show room just in time to say goodbye. She's still a human, but "the
spell is complete" and Eve is "going home," where they apparently need
her spirit/essence so the doll line won't get canceled. Don't think
too hard about it. Eve tells a
crying Casey that she loves her. "I
can go back now, and everything you've taught me will be a part of ALL
the dolls," Eve says. Uhhh, like football? Or like magically resurrecting your
dead mom? Oh, she means like crying and friendship.
Beam me up, Barbie!
Casey and Ben
watch as Eve gets consumed by a swirl of twinklies, glitterbugs and
sweetie pies. She becomes the doll once more. Ben grabs the doll and
says, "How 'bout we put her somewhere special?" GROSS, BEN. She was, like, just
a person and now you want to use her as your sex toy? Get help.
Epilogue: While walking downtown, Ben and Casey see that the Eve dolls
are flying off the shelves at the toy shore now. Then Casey runs into
her old friends and ditches dumb ol' Dad to hang out with them. Sharon
runs into Ben, calls him "partner" and offers to take him to lunch.
They're going to get married, probably. Down the street, a little girl
hugs her Eve doll, who has bangs now and says, "Show me your million
watt smile!" The movie ends with an
encore performance of
"Be A Star" with Tyra as the lead singer.
Shine bright, shine far. Be
a star! Of a low-budget Disney made-for-TV movie.
And they all lived happily ever after, except for Eve because
she's not real and never was, except in Casey's young grief-stricken
imagination. THE END!
For its premonitory use of smize, misplaced and superficial message of female empowerment and all that terrible acting, singing and dancing, Life-Size
is an essential part of the Tyra canon that foreshadowed several of her future career moves, including her latest: A young adult fantasy novel about (wait for it) female empowerment, modeling and magic. It's called Modelland,
and it came out yesterday. I think I know what I need to review next...(Images: Disney)