Hannah Montana: The Movie
2 1/2 stars out of 4
Love her or hate her, you can't deny that Miley Cyrus and her one-hit wonder father Billy Ray (in tandem with Disney, of course) have created the most successful pop culture brand name since Madonna.
In case you've been living under a rock for the last few years, Hannah Montana is girl-next-door Miley's stage name and de facto alter ego. As thin and unimaginative of a concept as it might be, it has struck a chord with millions of pre-teen girls who worship Miley/Hannah and spend every last dollar of their parents' disposable income in the process.
To offer up a critique of this movie is largely pointless. Nothing written here will dissuade any established fan from seeing it or change any nonbeliever's mind. The sole reason for the film's existence is to entertain young girls and it more than succeeds in its mission. It makes no attempt to be anything more than pure bubblegum and is proud of it.
With a movie like this, you don't want to muck it up with anything resembling true depth, but the filmmakers do deserve credit for coming up with a relatively novel concept. Stardom is nice and will make you filthy rich, but it isn't worth it unless you have a normal life off stage to offer counterbalance. It is far from subliminal but it tells the fan base exactly what they want to hear: Miley/Hannah is just like them.
The movie opens with Miley and BFF Lilly (Emily Osment) trying to gain entry to a Hannah concert. Denied but undeterred, they weasel their way in, and with just seconds to spare make sure Hannah hits the stage on time. Father/manager Robby Ray is none too pleased and believes Miley is approaching burnout. He decides to take her back home to rural Tennessee for some quality down time. Initially kicking and screaming, Miley eventually gets with the program and along with dad, also lands a safe-as-milk romantic interest.
In their attempt to make everything lily-white and homespun, the filmmakers and Disney largely mangle Southern culture with a slew of negative stereotypes. Almost all of it is harmless and is played for cheap laughs, but it shows a glaring degree of shortsightedness. Imagine an amalgamation of "Green Acres," "The Andy Griffith Show" and "Hee Haw" and you'll get the picture.
Along the way, Country music superstars Rascal Flatts and Taylor Swift turn in one song each, and likely without intent, make it clear that the Cyrus' are the third- and fourth-most talented musicians in the movie. Nothing against Miley; she is adept at churning out bouncy, low-cal pop, but including far superior talent for no reason in a movie showcasing her only points out her musical shortcomings.
With this movie, a book and a sold-out summer tour on the horizon, the Hannah Montana juggernaut shows no signs of slowing down. The big questions: Will Miley or her music be relevant five years from now? Will she develop as an artist and bring her teenybopper fan base along with her into adulthood? As you are reading this, you can be sure Billy Ray and Disney are hard at work making sure the answer to both of those questions is yes. (Disney)