By Christopher Rosa
Deep breaths, millennials: Hilary Duff’s A Cinderella Story turns 10 today. The film is cinematic gold — despite what some people think — and proved Duff is a majestic creature born to entertain us with her witticisms and girl-next-door prowess. But Lizzie McGuire’s been M.I.A. for a while, and it’s time we got her back.
Let’s face it: Duff was the teen queen of the ’00s. She had Lindsay Lohan’s va-va-voom looks and Amanda Bynes’ tear-inducing sense of humor. But what separated Duff from these chicks was her likability. With every giggle, coffee spill, and trip down the hallway, Duff melted our hearts; she was the girl we wanted at our sleepovers. Duff also become the first modern Disney triple threat with a hit show, back-to-back albums, and film roles alongside the likes of Steve Martin and Jennifer Coolidge. In other words, Duff was Miley Cyrus before Miley was just being Miley. While Lohan and Bynes have each struggled in recent years, Duff has transitioned into adulthood scandal-free. She’s now a mother to adorable two-year-old son Luca, and has managed to avoid both the club scene and erratic social media activity.
Fortunately, our girl will make her big comeback sooner rather than later. New sitcom Younger is set to premiere on TVLand in January, and she continues to tease upcoming new music. Journey back with us to the era of inflatable furniture, and check out 10 very important reasons why a Hilary Duff revival is not only good for pop culture, but humanity.
1. Her smile has hypnotizing powers that can end world conflicts.
There was a reason she was considered America’s tween sweetheart. Duff’s grin was an early ’00s institution, seen in everything from Casper Meets Wendy to the aforementioned A Cinderella Story.
2. Her music is truly good.
Sure, Duff might have been a product of the Disney machine, but it doesn’t mean her musical pursuits were invalid. 2003’s Metamorphosis has some of the sweetest bubblegum treats ever, and “Come Clean” became the theme to MTV’s hit reality show Laguna Beach. 2007’s Dignity is chock-full of slick, Britney-fied disco stompers; Rolling Stone called the album “surprisingly successful” and Entertainment Weekly gave it a B+.
3. No one does slapstick humor quite like her.
Duff did adorkable way before Zooey Deschanel became the New Girl. Her Disney character Lizzie McGuire is known for her clumsy tomfoolery, and with Duff’s skill at physical comedy, we can’t wait to see what Younger has in store.
4. She can rock an emotional scene when needed.
Duff does have some solid acting chops, and is capable of making us feel so many feels. Want to really cry? Check out her 2004 movie Raise Your Voice.
5. Her sleuthing skills (à la 2005′s The Perfect Man) are top-notch.
Her filmography is stacked with spying, scheming, and creating fake dating profiles to flirt with her mom in cyberspace. In the age of Tinder and OKCupid, we need Hilary now more than ever.
6. Her romantic wisdom is law.
Who needs a therapist when you’ve got Duff singing, “Come tomorrow it will seem so yesterday?” She’s also a resident love doctor on screen (see: Duff dishing out relationship advice to friend Miranda Sanchez on Lizzie McGuire, as well as in the seminal classic Cadet Kelly).
7. She’ll single-highhandedly bring back the cartoon alter-ego.
Admit it: After watching Lizzie McGuire, you secretly wanted an animated version of yourself to provide advice and make sassy comments. Who better to revive this trend than Hilary? Only this time, your cartoons won’t be swooning over middle school heartthrob Ethan Craft — they’ll be pining for bacon bloody marys at hungover brunch.
8. She knows how to pull double-duty.
Duff’s millennial reign turned into box office success when Lizzie McGuire headed to the big screen in 2002. In the film, Lizzie and the hopelessly devoted Gordo head to Rome where she bares a striking resemblance to an international pop star (also played by Duff). We’re still trying to figure out why we haven’t met our superstar twin and performed at the International Music Video Awards/debunked a slimy Backstreet Boy wannabe while abroad.
9. She’s a master of disguise.
Leave it to Duff to completely hide her identity with a dainty white mask while an unsuspecting Chad Michael Murray remains goo-goo-eyed and oblivious. Duff should train our nation’s troops in the art of camouflage.
10. Quite simply, she’s what dreams are made of.
We haven’t seen such a beautiful night since you left, Hilary. COME BACK.
[Photo Credit: Getty Images]