Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Movie Review: Hannah Montana: The Movie

Hannah Montana: The Movie **
Directed by:
Peter Chelsom.
Written By: Daniel Berendsen based on characters created by Michael Poryes and
Richard Correll & Barry O'Brien.
Starring: Miley Cyrus (Hannah Montana / Miley Stewart), Billy Ray Cyrus (Robby Ray Stewart), Emily Osment (Lilly Truscott / Lola Luftnagle), Jason Earles (Jackson Stewart), Mitchel Musso (Oliver Oken / Mike Standley III), Moises Arias (Rico), Lucas Till (Travis Brody), Vanessa Williams (Vita), Margo Martindale (Ruby), Peter Gunn (Oswald Granger), Melora Hardin (Lorelai), Jared Carter (Derrick), Barry Bostwick (Mr. Bradley), Taylor Swift (Herself).

I am not overly embarrassed to admit that occasionally, I will watch an episode of Hannah Montana. It is unpretentious fun, and sometimes when I have nothing better to do, and nothing else is on TV, I can sit back and even kind of enjoy the show. Yes, it’s a silly, rather stupid show, but it serves its purpose. I had been planning on skipping the movie until its arrival on DVD, but my fiancĂ© wanted to go, so off we went to movie. I wish I had waited until video.

That doesn’t mean that the movie was really that bad – it is just about as good as any episode on the TV show has ever been – just that the experience of watching it on the big screen was kind of odd. These are characters that, for me, exist on my small TV, and in their own little world, they work. The big screen is TOO big for these small characters, who have trouble filling it. Had I watched it on DVD, where I could have just pretended it was an extra long episode of the show, I may have even enjoyed it.

The movie follows everyone’s favorite teenager, Miley Stewart (Miley Cyrus) and her pop superstar alter-ego Hannah Montana over her summer vacation. Miley has grown up a little since she first became a star, and now she’s starting to act like a diva, getting into fights with Tyra Banks over shoes, blowing off her brother Jackson (Jason Earles) and ruining her best friend Lily’s (Emily Osment) sweet sixteen party. This is when her father, Robby Ray (Billy Ray Cyrus) decides to put his foot down, and takes Miley back home to Tennessee for two Hannah free weeks.

You know where this is going. Miley will act like a spoiled brat for a while, but soon the down home country wisdom wins her over, she falls for a cowboy, and is starting to wonder if like as Hannah is really worth everything else she has to go through. There are comic misadventures, as when Hannah is committed to going to a fancy dinner, and Miley is supposed to go on a date with her cowboy, prompting her to run back and forth between venues, which are of course across the street, changing each time.

Taken on its own terms, Hannah Montana: The Movie actually works pretty well. I do not doubt that the tween girls who have made Miley Cyrus a multi-millionaire and cultural icon will love each second of the movie, and beg their suffering parents to watch it again and again. Poor parents. But Cyrus does have a nice screen presence, and has a gift for comic timing. True, she isn’t exactly going to winning an Oscar anytime soon, and whenever she decides to try and break into “real” movie roles, she will undoubtedly struggle for a while, just like Hilary Duff, the “old” Miley Cyrus, is doing right now. But none of that really matters right now. Hannah Montana: The Movie delivers what it sets out to deliver, to the audience that it has targeted. Had I been in that target audience, I would have loved it. But I’m not.

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