HANNAH MONTANA AND MILEY CYRUS – BEST OF BOTH WORLDS CONCERT (2008)
Starring Miley Cyrus, Billy Ray Cyrus, Joe Jonas, Kevin Jonas, Nick Jonas, Kenny Ortega, Mandy Jiroux, Paul Becker, Teresa Espinosa, Jaco Caraco, Jennifer Talarico, Jason Pettigrew and Marshall Lake.
Directed by Bruce Hendricks.
Distributed by Walt Disney Studios. 74 minutes. Rated G.
The Miley Cyrus hype machine is so unstoppable in 2008 that this concert film – which normally would have taken the express train to video racks – actually received a widespread (but at the same time limited – however that works) cinematic release. To add to the gimmick value of the release, it was in 3D!
Whether the content of the film was worthy of all this special treatment is of course secondary. As far as the makers of Best of Both Worlds Concert are concerned, if it will make money then it’s worth it.
Proving once again that no one ever went broke pandering to pre-teen girls, the film (despite its supposed limited release) was the top grossing film in the country in its opening week. Maybe that had something to do with the “event” status of the film apparently called for higher ticket prices.
Yet, for a concert film that is obviously “product,” at least it does hold up musically for the most part. Granted, Cyrus is not pushing any envelopes here, but her music is a pleasant enough wad of bubble gum pop. Sure, the occasional song sounds just a hair too much like earlier hits (the writers of “Kids In America” and “Mickey” should be looking for restitution), but songs like “See You Again,” “Girls’ Night Out,” “7 Things” and the title track are actually damned catchy. Cyrus has a pleasant voice and does not really over-sing everything, like so many of her contemporaries. There is also a very capable band keeping the music tight.
It doesn’t hurt either to surrender the stage to the Jonas Brothers, who despite being teen heartthrobs are also pretty talented musicians, for two songs.
You may not expect that musical competence from a concert in which the tour director is not a musician, but a choreographer (Kenny Ortega of Dirty Dancing and High School Musical fame).
Like all of these films, the backstage antics are the low point. While Miley seems like a nice enough and mostly unaffected girl, she is still only in her mid-teens and may not totally be able to articulate what she is feeling and why she makes her artistic choices. This is really noticeable in a backstage interview where she is trying to explain that one song that appears on the surface to be a sad love song is actually about missing her grandfather, but she can’t quite seem to get her point across.
In the meantime, you see lots of hijinks backstage, plus quite a few scenes of musicians, dancers, friends and family sucking up to Miley while she tries her best to seem like a normal girl. (A good clothing store is going out of business and everything is 80% off! Like she really needs to save the money…) Former “Achy Breaky Heart” one-hit wonder Billy Ray Cyrus is his normal “aw, shucks” good-old-boy self in backstage scenes and never for a second appears to feel any kind of guilt about pimping out his teen daughter to extend his own fifteen minutes of fame.
The complicated title of the video – after all Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus are the same person and yet the fictional character is given top billing – shows the slightly schizophrenic state of Miley’s career at this point, when she is trying to break beyond her popular Saturday morning series and create a persona for herself. For the record, in general the Miley songs are preferable to the Hannah ones.
Eventually Best of Both Worlds Concert will be no more relevant than Britney Spears – Live and More or Debbie Gibson – Electric Youth Live, but for this one white-hot moment in pop culture this is the ultimate video souvenir for millions of young girls. At least until the next phenomenon comes along.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2008 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: August 19, 2008.