HANNAH MONTANA: THE MOVIE (2009)
Starring Miley Cyrus, Billy Ray Cyrus, Emily Osment, Jason Earles, Mitchell Musso, Moises Arias, Lucas Till, Vanessa Williams, Margo Martindale, Peter Gunn, Melora Hardin, Barry Bostwick, Taylor Swift, Tyra Banks and Brooke Shields.
Screenplay by Daniel Berendsen.
Directed by Peter Chelsom.
Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. 102 minutes. Rated G.
It was probably inevitable that Disney – which has never met a marketing angle that it didn’t like – would get around to making a movie version of its most popular TV series, which stars one of the biggest manufactured pop stars of the new millennium.
I just wish they did a little more with it – but I suppose that the Hannah Montana audience is a kind of undemanding lot. Young girls will love Hannah Montana: The Movie. It’s not very good, though. It’s not even as good as the series that it was inspired by.
HMTM loses a lot of the series’ charm by simply losing the studio audience and goofy jokiness of the series – it is not just a coincidence that Hannah’s goofy brother is pushed off to the side most of this movie. He doesn’t fit in on the new, streamlined, serious Hannah. The movie misses him a lot more than they realize.
Despite quite a few half-hearted attempts to joke the movie up – and despite quite a few very cartoonish supporting characters – Hannah Montana: The Movie mostly plays it serious. However, Hannah Montana isn’t Hamlet. We’re not really looking to see Miley Cyrus having a dark night of the soul. Without the snappy/goofy dialogue of the series, the movie turns kind of sappy. And frankly, most of the times the film does stray into the comic realm it falls a little flat.
Hannah Montana: The Movie trades on a lot of simplistic “family values” ideals: Big city = bad. Country = good. Fame and fortune = bad. Simple, hard working folks = good. Children = good. Old people, too. Old fashioned = good. Progress = bad. Farms = good. Malls = bad. California = bad. Tennessee = good. Publicists = bad. Tabloid journalists = really bad. And nothing, but nothing, is better than Elvis.
In the film, trading on the TV series’ plotline, young Miley Stewart struggles to juggle her real teenaged life with her secret identity – as über-pop star Hannah Montana. When her dad (played by her real dad, 90s one-hit-wonder Billy Ray Cyrus) senses that she is disappearing too much into the glitz and glamour of her alter-ego, he decides that what Miley needs is a return to the old family farm. After all, she got into a catfight over a pair of shoes on Rodeo Drive with model Tyra Banks! That girl needs some cow-milkin’, STAT!
Therefore, against her will, Miley is taken to Tennessee for her grandma’s (played by the always reliably good Margo Martindale) birthday. At first, Miley hates it. However, soon she learns to appreciate the slower pace – particularly because she gets involved in a chaste relationship with a local farmhand (Lucas Till) who has a puppy-dog cute baby face and a shockingly deep voice for a guy who looks so young.
Even Billy Ray gets a cutesy potential love relationship with Melora Hardin – who seems to now be Hollywood’s go-to supporting MILF since her breakout role on The Office – as the lawyer/handywoman at the farm, who is the only person who lives in the town with no trace of a southern accent.
In the meantime, Hannah is being stalked by a British tabloid journalist named Ozzy (played by an actor named Peter Gunn, who is sadly not the 1950s TV detective of the same name) – who is determined to get the sleazy inside story on the teen sensation. All he knows is the name of her hometown – Crowley Corners. Therefore he shows up in the town to do some reconnaissance at just the same time the Miley is visiting.
Meanwhile, the town needs a quick transfusion of money to save it from being developed into just another strip-mall cluttered suburban area. The only way they can figure out to save the town is to have Hannah give a benefit concert. (For all the looking down the small-town people do on that crazy show-biz girl, they are more than willing to exploit her fame for their own benefit concert.)
Uh oh, looks like trouble coming…
Will Miley be able to juggle both sides of her life? Will she be there for the fans, the town and the hunky farmhand? Will the tabloid journalist find out her secret identity?
You know the answer to those questions as well as I do. Let’s face it; if you are watching Hannah Montana: The Movie, you aren’t expecting any great revelations. Hannah Montana is supposed to be comfort food and the movie does work as that – though I wish they had done a better job of sprinkling in the goofy humor that is the real strength of the series.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2009 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: August 9, 2009.