Hannah Montana: The Movie Directed by: Peter Chelsom Cast: Miley Cyrus, Billy Ray Cyrus, Vanessa Williams, Lucas Till Time: 1 hr 38 min Rating: PG
Plot: The Hannah Montana persona has started to take over Miley Stewart’s life (Miley Cyrus), so her father (Billy Ray Cyrus) tricks her into returning to her roots in Tennessee. Via montages and silly slow-mo, Miley learns what’s truly important: people like you better when you’re blond.
Who’s It For? The three gazillion unquestioning, rabid devotees of Hannah Montana.
Expectations: I didn’t expect it to feel like an army brain-washing experiment where they trap you in a chair and peel your eyelids back and force you to watch hours of surreal crap until you’re turned into a mindless soldier for Disney—and I was dead wrong.
Actors: Miley Cyrus as Miley Stewart: I’m not a slathering Miley hater—this girl’s got some serious gifts. Her singing is tremendous and her acting, while still slightly raw, has some real potential. She’s charming and fun. In Hannah Montana: The Movie she’s like the lone talent in a High School play. I sympathized that she was obligated to survive this silliness. Score: 6
Billy Ray Cyrus as Bobby Ray Stewart: I was around when Achy, Breaky Heart hit the airwaves and I felt like it was one of the first signs of the apocalypse. Shortly after, frogs rained from the sky and the rivers turned to blood. So, I want you to really appreciate how miraculous it is that I actually liked Billy Ray Cyrus in this movie. He has a gentle, easy presence and I liked the character. I cannot say one way or the other if this is because he did a good job, or the movie was so painful, I glommed onto whatever respite I could find. Score: 5
Talking: The dialogue is not what makes this movie such a stinker. The dialogue—aside from the moments of agonizing absurdity—is just fine. It isn’t overly funny, but the kids will mostly be giggling at the sight gags. Still, it tells the story it’s supposed to tell. Score: 4
Sights: The movie certainly didn’t direct itself, which is too bad. A runaway train could’ve had a handful of serendipitous moments, whereas this surreal and overwhelmingly girlie bilge was so intentional, there was no room for accidental quality. Score: 1
Sounds: Man, that girl has some pipes on her. Miley Cyrus is going to grow into an exceptional performer. The movie falters and limps whenever Cyrus isn’t singing, so it’s constantly coming up with reasons to get her behind a microphone. These reasons range from quasi-reasonable to totally laughable, but her singing is really the only reason to tolerate this movie. Two particularly enjoyable songs are the “Hip-Hop Ho-Down” and “Life is a Climb.” Score: 8
Best Scene: When Miley is “convinced” to get up on stage for an impromptu performance and she whips out an exceptionally well-produced rendition of “Hip-Hop Ho-Down.” It’s also kind of funny, since she fights it… “No…no, I couldn’t…OKAY!” and then suddenly she has professional backup singers.
Ending: The world is flat. 2+2=5. If you’re on board with those factoids, you won’t mind the ending. Plus, the offensive bottom line turns out to be “don’t be yourself.”
Questions: Really? No one knows Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus are the same person when Cyrus is constantly yakking away about her alternate persona in very public places? There is no attempt at secrecy other than the assumption that no one is listening…and weirdly…no one is listening. I wish I hadn’t been listening.
Rewatchability: Under certain circumstances, maybe. Like, for example, if that was the only way for me to save the world from famine and warfare, and even then, I’d have to be SURE the world was going to start making a stronger effort.
OVERALL There is no attempt at plausible cause and effect in Hannah Montana: The Movie. Hannah Montana is the biggest pop star in the universe, but she can walk down the street unmolested, and have casual conversations about how she’s really Miley Stewart in disguise. The paparazzi only take notice when she’s fighting over a pair of shoes with Tyra Banks, but otherwise, yawn, it’s only the biggest pop star in the universe—why stalk her day and night like we would in any other semi-plausible reality?
Maybe if I’d grown up with manis and pedis, I’d be more forgiving of this appalling perspective on celebrity as a necessary escape and not a social disease. But, since I grew up climbing trees and playing with bugs, my inner tomboy blanches at the entire concept. Hannah Montana: The Movie is like the popular girl who pretends to be dimwitted, because the boys think it’s cute and non-threatening; those of us with actual brains spend all our time wondering what the heck all the fuss is about.
Final Score: 4/10