Now I’m not exactly implying that Miley Cyrus in the split personality themed Hannah Montana: The Movie bears any resemblance to Linda Blair and her own peculiar identity crisis over thirty five years ago in The Exorcist. But that whiskey voiced sixteen year old superstar has some definite age inappropriate issues going on, and we’re not just talking the Miley Cyrus sex scandals. Though those may factor in as additional food for thought too.
In other words, Hannah Montana: The Movie impresses with the precociously rich and famous sixteen year old’s natural charm and evolving dramatic gifts. But there’s just something lurking beneath the surface that feels on the manipulative side. And that’s an undercurrent of suspicion that this combo hick flick musical is not merely entertainment, but possibly a cinematic community service stint for Miley, to put a spin on all that bad girl gossip surrounding her public persona, and make it all just go away.
An extension of the small screen schizoid Hannah/Miley Stewart motif, the movie further establishes that innovative reality show cinema hybrid, that has created a brand new generation of star crazed little girls. In the film, the nearly baritone, big buck toothed lanky ‘best of both worlds’ Miley/Hannah is currently so into the secret second life LA fame game, that when her father Robby Ray (Miley’s real life dad, Billy Ray Cyrus) insists she return home to rural Tennessee for her grandmother’s birthday party, he has to essentially kidnap his bratty celebrity kid. Who’d rather be doing the red carpet at a music awards show in New York City.
But once Miley gets a little of the ‘britches and boots’ country girl knocked back into her and that fabulously fake mop top blonde wig ripped off her hugely swollen head, the stubborn superstar undergoing ‘Hannah detox’ begins to get all sorts of idealistic down home community and family values notions. Like helping the local folks fend off greedy real estate developers, out to ruin their wilderness mecca. And even teaching those no good paparazzi and tampering-with-the-truth tabloids a lesson they’re not likely to forget anytime soon.
Now while there’s nothing bad about imparting such significant right and wrong notions about star power dedication and parent appreciation, to the impressionable youth who adore Miley – and she’s really effective in convincing just how deeply her character feels these things – the lack of a practice what you preach component just seems to be missing. Not to mention the suspect sincerity detection of unpleasant stuff in the background, like sexualized children offscreen, that lingers throughout.
This at times worst of both worlds gimmicky narrative isn’t helped much either, by a nasty shopaholic shoe fight interlude with Hannah facing off against Tyra Banks. Or her romantic obsession with the playing hard to get Marlboro boy neighbor Travis (Lucas Till) who acts like Hannah Montana would be worse than a date from hell. Though perhaps Travis’ reaction to the hide and seek hottie’s music says it all: ‘It’s a nice song, but it’s not about anything. It doesn’t tell me anything about who you are or how you feel.’
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
2 1/2 stars
DVD BONUS FEATURES: Deleted Scenes; Featurettes: Find Your Way Back Home: The Stars As They Show You Around Their Hometowns; I Should Have Gone To Film School: Behind The Scenes With Jason Earles For Movie Secrets And More; Music Video: The Climb; Cast Bloopers: Fun With Hannah And The Gang; Audio Commentary On The Film With Director Peter Chelsom.
BLU-ray Extras: Seven Music Videos; Featurettes: The Hoedown Throwdown Dance-Along: Learn The Moves; The Dance Experience With The Cast; BD-Live: Hannah’s Country Store Allows You To Create A Wish List Of Products Inspired By The Movie; DVD Of The Movie Plus Bonus DisneyFile Digital Copy.