Hannah Montana: The Movie

Hannah Montana: The Movie

Director: Peter Chelsom
Starring: Miley Cyrus, Billy Ray Cyrus, Vanessa Williams and Margo Martindale
Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures
Runtime: 102 mins. Reviewed in Nov 2011
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Rating notes:

Definitely not the target audience for this movie spin-off from the Disney Channel’s popular series about the ‘ordinary’ girl, Miley Cyrus, and her media persona, Hannah Montana, I thought I should see a film which has been enormously popular with young girls and has the approval of many of their parents.

It is a cheerful show, directed by Britain’s Peter Chelsom (Funnybones, The Mighty, Shall We Dance) who, allegedly, had never heard of Hannah Montana before he agreed to make the film. Since she is on television, has had a 3D film of a concert and has several albums and an autobiography, she is a celebrity phenomenon.

That is what the film is about. The fact that Miley Cyrus dons a blonde wig and becomes Hannah on stage is a secret – though the device of the wig meaning that no-one will recognise her is too much of a stretch, especially in the film where she is running from one meal to another and the infatuated boyfriend sitting across the table doesn’t realise that Hannah is Miley. Which must mean that the film is designed for very young, undiscriminating audiences.

Miley herself is OK, has some energy for singing, but does not have the charisma of other young actors. Her real life father, singer Billy Ray Cyrus, plays her screen father. Acting is not his forte.

With veterans like Vanessa Williams as a pushy agent, Margo Martindale as the most agreeable grandma and Barry Bostwick as the ambitious developer, other members of the cast, including gawky Lucas Till as Travis, the farmhand who falls in love with Miley, are not such great shakes at acting either.

So, the film is mainly the keeping of Miley’s secret as her father wants to teach her that her sense of her own importance and her capitalistic, consumerist, spendthrift shopping sprees are not what life and career are about. Her getting down to do some hard work back in Tennessee is a key to the message.

As with this kind of film, Miley is able to get a better idea about ordinary life and to keep her career as well. One suspects that the Hannah Montana popularity is studio generated and may be just a passing phenomenon.

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