The tagline for the film was "She was a perfect doll. Now she's the real thing." Filmed during 1999, it premiered as part of The Wonderful World of Disney on ABC, and made its début on Disney Channel in March 2000. However, the film wasn't released in the United Kingdom until August 3, 2002.
Casey Stuart (Lindsay Lohan), is a tomboy who is the quarterback of her school's seventh grade football team. Since her mother died, she has been avoiding her old friends and arguing with a boy on her team. Wanting to bring her mother back to life, Casey finds a book of magic with a section on resurrecting the dead at a local book store. A successful resurrection will become permanent unless it is undone before sunset on the fourth day after it begins. However, since the book was expensive, she left all the money she had on the shelf in a glass compartment which is where the book was.
Following the book's instructions, Casey collects artifacts from her mother's life, including strands of hair in her hairbrush. However, the resurrection is unwittingly sabotaged when Drew Mitchell (Anne Marie Loder), a woman who works with and is romantically interested in Casey's father Ben (Jere Burns), gives Casey an Eve doll. Eve is a plastic doll in the form of a beautiful young woman, manufactured by Marathon Toys. She has lots of accessories, including outfits appropriate to challenging careers such as law enforcement, medicine, and aerospace, and lives in Sunnyvale, "in the middle of America".
As Casey is preparing to resurrect her mother, Drew stops by to give her the doll for her birthday and uses the hairbrush to brush the doll's hair. With strands from the doll remaining on the brush as Casey utters the incantation, the magic acts on the doll rather than Casey's mother, and Casey wakes up the next morning to find Eve in bed with her in full size human form (Tyra Banks). Casey is upset by this, but Eve is excited about being human.
Over the next few days, Eve buys clothes at the local shopping mall, uses her police training to stop a truck that almost runs Casey over, smells and eats for the first time, tries to do secretarial work, sings her theme song, and almost sets the Stuarts' kitchen on fire. She also helps Casey cope with the loss of her mother. Meanwhile, Casey discovers that she needs the second volume of the magic book to reverse Eve's spell.
During this time, tension builds between Casey and her father, who has been missing her football games while trying to secure a promotion in his law firm. The tension is further increased by Ben's attraction to Eve, which Casey resents as a betrayal of her mother. Eve helps people turn into a better version of themselves.
As the film proceeds, Casey and Eve gradually become friends. Eve displays insight and sensitivity in talking with Casey about her mother, and she helps Casey with her self-confidence. In exchange, Casey gives Eve tips on how to be a popular doll and a good role model. By the time the magic book arrives at the local bookstore, Casey has decided she likes Eve, so she doesn't buy it. Unfortunately, Eve has been getting homesick. Discouraged by her difficulties in being human and worried about being discontinued by Marathon, Eve decides to undo the spell herself.
After buying the book, and saying goodbye to Ben at Casey's championship game, she goes to Sunnyvale, a specially decorated room at Marathon headquarters, and recites the incantation. When Casey and Ben arrive, she tearfully bids them farewell and turns back into a doll. Sometime later, with the lessons learned from her experiences in the human world, she becomes a popular toy again. Casey resumes her old friendships, Ben is promoted at work, and Drew takes him to lunch.
The film ends as the cast dances to Eve's theme song.
Since the film was a television movie, Lohan didn't have to audition for the role of Casey Stuart, the girl whose doll comes to life. The producers of the film offered her the role as a part of a three-picture contract with The Walt Disney Company. She had to learn how to play football for the role and found it to be "hard." In the film, her character's mother has died. Lohan found it challenging to act like her mother was dead since she could not relate.
Banks was given the role of Eve, the doll that is magically transformed into a live woman during Casey's attempt to bring her mother back to life. Costume designer Maya Mani said, "It was a joy to work with Tyra because she knows how to wear clothes. No matter what we put on her, she could carry it off."
Burns, known for his past annoying and obnoxious characters, was cast for his sympathetic acting ability. His character, Casey's father, is too caught up with law practice to pay much close attention to Casey since his wife died of cancer.
Lindsay Lohan's siblings have small parts in the film. At Casey's football game, her siblings Michael, Ali, and Dakota can be seen sitting in the stands, cheering for the team.
Stephanie Moore came up with the idea of a doll coming to life. She collaborated with the director, Mark Rosman, on the teleplay for the film. Pre production began in the summer of 1999, and filming began in October 1999.
The beginning of the film starts with a commercial that promotes buying Eve dolls. For the doll commercial, production designer David Fischer deliberately went for a retro 1950s look, similar to The Jetsons. "It had to look dated but fun and inviting" stated director Mark Rosman.
Filming took place for three weeks. For the location, the producers thought Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada would be a good location for the film. The toy store used in the film is named Kaboodles. This is the actual toy store's name, as it wasn't changed during production. It is located in Point Grey in Vancouver.
There are British Columbia flags on Ben's license plate, indicating that it is set in British Columbia Canada . However, also on the license plate, it says: Evergreen State. The Evergreen State is Washington. The film was originally going to première as a part of The Wonderful World of Disney on February 27, 2000. It was delayed by one week, and later released on March 5.
George Blondheim and Mark Rosman wrote a song titled "Be a Star" that Tyra Banks sings at a business party. The song is the theme song for the film, and was also reprised at the end of the film. Two songs by the group B*Witched were used in the film: "C'est la Vie" and "Rollercoaster". A song from Nobody's Angel's debut album, "Keep Me Away", was used near the end of the film.
A sequel to the movie was first reported in November 2012. In January 2014, Disney Channel announced that they are working on a sequel to Life-Size in title as Life-Size 2, with Tyra Banks reprising the role of Eve. In March 2015, Banks tweeted that they are still working on the script.
In September 2015, Tyra said to Hollywood Life: "We have gotten many drafts of scripts, and the one thing I can say is that to the Disney Channel executives, Life-Size is so precious. It's like their baby, so they just want it perfect. They keep redoing it, and redoing it, and redoing the script, and we are in another round of redos, and we're hoping for Christmas 2016." Banks once again announced her involvement with the film during an interview with Variety in December 2015, ""There is no one else that can play Eve but me, thank you very much! I'm just joking with you, but yes, I am going to be Eve."
In April 2017, it was announced the film would debut on Freeform in December 2018.