movie film review | chris tookey

Hannah Montana: The Movie

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  Hannah Montana: The Movie Review
Tookey's Rating
3 /10
Average Rating
4.43 /10
Miley Cyrus, Emily Osment, Peter Gunn
Full Cast >

Directed by: Peter Chelsom
Written by: Daniel Berendsen

Released: 2009
Origin: US
Colour: C
Length: 102

An achingly sincere attempt by Disney to part girls aged 7-14 from their parents’ money.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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Creepy child-woman Miley Cyrus (pictured right) plays Miley Stewart, an ordinary teenager who becomes singing superstar Hannah Montana, simply by putting on a blonde wig. This makes her utterly unrecognizable to anyone not in the know.

The plot premise is that 16 year old Miley Stewart has fallen too much in love with her own celebrity, which any of you who caught Miss Cyrus’s toe-curling bumptiousness on Jonathan Ross’s TV show may suspect is not too far from the truth.

Miley S. even grouses about the size of the bathroom on her private jet. So clearly she needs to be taught life-lessons about the importance of roots and family by father-manager Bobby-Ray - played by Miley C.’s real dad Billy Ray (pictured left), a terrible actor and former country’n’western star who long ago perpetrated the single Achy Breaky Heart, for which many music-lovers still haven’t forgiven him.

The stone-faced old sadist punishes her by taking her back to rural Tennessee, where she meets her adorable gran, gathers eggs, rides her own horse – and whines that she wants her life back. Around this point, I was hoping one of her charmingly bucolic relatives would do the decent thing, and shoot her.

But no. Miley loses her achy breaky heart to a commendably clean but deeply dim farm-hand called Travis (Lucas Till) who’s had a crush on her for years and still hasn’t noticed yet that she and Hannaah are one and the same.

He is not alone. Even when Miley gets up on stage at a hoedown and sings to an audience of Hannah Montana fans in a voice identical to Hannah Montana’s, not one of the locals suspects the truth. Maybe the whole film’s an indictment of inbreeding in the Deep South.

No rip-off of Sweet Home Alabama would be complete without a villain, and we get two. One (overplayed with grim determination by Peter Gunn) is a tabloid reporter determined to discover Hannah’s secret identity. Since he is British and has funny teeth, Miley S. is allowed to do potentially homicidal things to him, and we’re supposed to laugh.

The other bad guy is a nasty developer who wants to ruin Miley’s home town environment by building a shopping mall.

No one mentions if the mall will have a Disney store. Nor is anyone ill-mannered enough to recall environmentalists’ objections when Disney threatened to open a theme park in Virginia, or bring up the recent scandal when backpacks, necklaces and other children’s products featuring Hannah Montana were found to contain illegal, potentially toxic levels of lead.

Possibly in an attempt to re-establish Hannah’s green credentials, Miley must get her poptastic alter ego to put on a fund-raisin’ concert, but – oh no, would you believe it – on the night the mayor has organised a reception for her, Miley’s gone and arranged a dinner date with Travis, which means she has to be in two places at once!

Sceptics among you may ask why Miley can’t just give the townspeople the money. Others may wonder why Miley can’t change the time of her date and save herself, and us, a lot of annoyance.

Early in his career, British director Peter Chelsom made the delightfully eccentric Hear My Song and Funny Bones. After a none too productive spell in Hollywood and a notorious turkey in the form of Town & Country, he’s slipped a long way down the food chain. It’s sad to see him reduced to this anonymous hackwork.

I would love to see Chelsom return to his quirky best, but I’m not holding my breath. The comedy is crude, and the slapstick laboured. Compared with this, Disney’s High School Musical 3 had the sophistication of Singin’ In The Rain.

The three things I would say in favour of Hannah Montana: The Movie is that it does know its market; the bubblegum songs will appeal to their target demographic; and, even though it’s cheerfully brainless, it is still quite a bit more plausible than the Chancellor’s latest forecasts of economic growth.

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