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Overall Rating
2.5

Awesome: 6.25%
Worth A Look: 12.5%
Average: 6.25%
Pretty Bad75%
Total Crap: 0%

2 reviews, 4 user ratings


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Hannah Montana: The Movie
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Is This The End Of The Wig Party?"
2 stars

As virtually anyone who is either a seven-year-old girl or in possession of same no doubt knows, the underlying conceit behind the enormously popular TV series “Hannah Montana” is that a young girl can somehow be one of the most popular singers on the planet and yet still live the utterly ordinary life of an average teenager with the help of family, friends and a wig that rivals Clark Kent’s spectacles in its ability to cloud minds to such a degree that no one recognizes who the person wearing them really is. Fine, but did “Hannah Montana: The Movie,” the cunningly titled attempt to transfer the show’s success to the big screen before its popularity begins to wane, have to follow its main character’s dream of being ordinary and average as well? Granted, I didn’t exactly wander into this film expecting a modern-day version of “Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains” but I have to admit that I was hoping that it might turn out to have a little more substance than the painfully stretched out feature-length TV episode that we have been presented with here.

As the film opens, the normally sweet-tempered Miley Stewart (Miley Cyrus), the adorable waif whose Hannah Montana alter-ego is the toast of the musical world, has begun indulging in some decidedly divaesque behavior (or at least as divaesque as one can get while still retaining a “G” rating)--she gets into a brawl with Tyra Banks in a store over a pair of shoes (though to be fair, Tyra did throw the first punch), disrupts the birthday party of best friend Lilly (Emily Osment) by showing up in her Hannah disguise in order to elude a pesky paparazzo (Peter Gunn, presumably no relation to either the show or the theme song) and contemplates blowing off a family get-together in order to replace Beyonce at the oh-so-prestigious New York Music Awards. Despite the promise of a once-in-a-lifetime meeting of the minds between Hannah Montana and Lou Reed, Miley’s dad (Billy Ray Cyrus) puts his foot down and forces her to accompany him to their hometown of Crowley Corners, Tennessee for a couple of weeks so that she can visit with her grandmother (Margo Martindale) and try to remember the important things in life. At this point, Miley reminds Dad that she is worth 60 million dollars, emancipates herself, charters the first flight to the Big Apple and joins Reed on the stage for a hair-raising cover of “I’m Waiting for the Man.” Sorry, I was daydreaming there for a minute. In truth, she reconnects with her roots (no pun intended), develops a crush on non-threatening boy Travis (Lucas Till), revives her alter-ego to put on a benefit concert to save the town from the clutches of a greedy land developer (Barry Bostwick--yes, Ace Hunter himself) and contemplates shedding it forever when she sees the sacrifices that her family and friends have had to make in order to keep her bizarre and fairly inexplicable charade going.

Obviously, the producers of this film realized that they could theoretically put out two hours of black leader under the title of “Hannah Montana: The Movie” and pull in millions of little girls and whichever parent/guardian lost the coin flip. The trouble here is that what they have come up with is so listless and witless that you’ll find yourself wishing that they actually did go with the black leader idea. Although it begins promisingly enough with what appears to be a kind of meta-commentary on the whole Hannah Montana phenomenon, that aspect is quickly ignored as the storyline transforms into an innocuous sitcom that somehow manages to be both excruciating dull--plenty of homilies about the importance of family and friends over fame and fortune that I am sure are followed to the letter on the Disney lot every day--and absolutely impenetrable to anyone without an extensive working knowledge of the series. (This may be the single most convoluted film from a narrative standpoint that Billy Ray Cyrus has ever appeared in and bear in mind, the guy did appear in “Mulholland Drive.”) The cornpone sentiment is laughable while the slapstick humor (which at one point involves a kid apparently being eaten by an alligator) is anything but. The music is so completely bland and anonymous, even by tween-pop standards, that the film actually has to drag in young country megastar Taylor Swift to do a tune in order to goose things up a little. These flaws are perhaps not too surprising but the one that I wasn’t expecting was the listless performance by Miley Cyrus in the title role. In that Hannah Montana 3-D concert movie that was all the rage last year, she came across as enormously likable in the backstage scenes as herself but here, she is frankly a bit of a drag--there is no spark or sense of joy in her performance and she demonstrates all the charisma of a background extra. (At one point, the infinitely livelier Emily Osment dons the Hannah Montana wig--don’t ask--and when she does, I found myself wishing that she would keep it one because she was at least doing something with it.) Beyond that, the only real mystery, at least for the few auteurists who find themselves watching this film, will come from wondering exactly how Peter Chelsom, the director of such quirky and winning comedy-dramas as “Hear My Song” and the criminally underseen “Funny Bones,” wound up directing this utterly anonymous programmer. (Oh yeah, he also directed the incredibly expensive Warren Beatty bomb “Town & Country” a few years ago and still hasn’t quite gotten back into Hollywood’s good graces as of yet.)

As I sat watching “Hannah Montana: The Movie” in utter confusion in a room filled with utterly delighted tykes, I was reminded of that immortal line of dialogue delivered by Groucho Marx in the classic “Duck Soup”: “Simple? Why, this report is so simple that a four-year-old child could understand it. Run out and get me a four-year-old child--I can’t make heads or tails out of it.” As it so happens, I actually brought a metaphorical four-year-old child--actually the adorable seven-year-old Vanessa--in order to get a better sense of how it played for an actual member of its target audience. Needless to say, she loved it and was singing, dancing and carrying on when it was all over. Then again, she also loved the jumbo Slurpee she consumed during the film, a beverage that was far more substantial than anything to be found on the screen one that I suspect may have contributed heavily to all that post-screening singing, dancing and carrying on. I am glad that she enjoyed it as much as she did but it is my learned opinion that Vanessa is a relatively sharp girl once you get all of the sugar out of her and my guess is that one day, she will read these words and feel a sense of mild embarrassment that she once got so worked up over something so silly. For her sake, and for the sake of so many others like her out there, I can only hope that this moment of realization comes sooner than later and she can put this piffle out of her mind forever and go on to something with a little more depth--the Banana Splits, for example.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=17548&reviewer=389
originally posted: 04/10/09 14:00:00
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User Comments

11/29/09 nora wazwaz I AM THE HUGGEST FAN OF THE MOVIE I LOVE HER SONGS R MOVIE I JUST LOVE MILEY CYRUS SHE ROCK 5 stars
6/11/09 Marcia Lartz Right Meredith, surly grandma IS the weakest part. 4 stars
6/08/09 Meredith Harshaw They made grandma just TOO redneckish & contentious; otherwise SURPRISINGLY good. 4 stars
4/11/09 PAUL SHORTT PART MUSICAL, PART COMING-OF-AGE ROMANCE, ALL CLICHED, BUT ENDEARING 3 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  10-Apr-2009 (G)
  DVD: 18-Aug-2009

UK
  N/A

Australia
  10-Apr-2009
  DVD: 18-Aug-2009




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