Hannah Montana: The Movie

Part fantasy fable, part message coming-of-age yarn, part intergenerational family melodrama, part Big City vs. Small-town Americana, part musical, but not satisfying on any of these levels, “Hannah Montana: The Movie” may be critics proof at the box-office but it's an artistic disappointment.

 

Call it Synergy of the Global Kind: Disney Pictures takes the Disney Channel socio-cultural phenom to the big screen in this feature, simply titled “Hannah Montana: The Movie,” starring the charming Miley Stewart (Miley Cyrus, of course) as she struggles to juggle different and conflicting agenda: school work, friends and her secret pop-star persona.  Trying to please its worldwide audiences, and perhaps recruit new aficionados, the whole enterprise smacks of extreme commercialism, even by Hollywood standards.  What will be the next step? 

 

Unfortunately, the filmmakers (helmer Peter Chelsom and screenwriter Dan Berendsen) have not bothered to concoct a minimally engaging yarn, which will pass as a movie, instead throwing into the mix a combo of overly familiar subplots and characters.  As every girl (and boy and parent) probably knows by now, the movie is based on characters created by Michael Poryes and Rich Correll and Barry O’Brien.

 

As a moralistic coming-of-age saga, the director and his writers have arranged for their protag to experience an identity crisis.  Thus, when Hannah Montana’s popularity threatens to literally take over her life, her concerned father (Billy Ray Cyrus, of course) decides to takes her home to Crowley Corners, Tennessee, for a dose of reality, in other words, for the transmission of real family values.  The ensuing Capracorn country trip brings adventure, fun, and even romance for the young girl above and beyond her wildest dreams and expectations.

 

Shot entirely on location in and around Nashville, Tennessee, and Los Angeles, “Hannah Montana” benefits from its secondary cast, headed by Emily Osment, Jason Earles, Mitchel Musso, Moises Arias and Billy Ray Cyrus, Melora Hardin, Margo Martindale, Barry Bostwick, Peter Gunn, Lucas Till and Vanessa Williams, not to mention the guest star-celebs Tyra Banks, Taylor Swift and country music trio Rascal Flatts.

 

Like its varied cast of younger and vet performers, TV and movie actors, anything and everything goes in this flick, which strikes me as a quickly made movie in order to cash in on the soaring phenom called Miley Cyrus. Her top-rated Emmy-nominated TV series, “Hannah Montana,” sold-out 70-city concert tour and third consecutive top-selling album (“Breakout”) in less than two years have propelled the young actress-singer-songwriter to international stardom.  After the series’ smash debut in March 2006 (with 5.4 million viewers of the premiere), Cyrus became an immediate hit with audiences, and her own soaring popularity has reflected those of her famous TV alter egos, Hannah Montana and Miley Stewart.

 

What has happened to director Peter Chelsom, who has not made a decent picture in years—remember “Serendipity,” “Shall We Dance?” “Town & Country”? all flops of one kind or another. Years back, Chelsom showed a light, charming touch: His first feature film, “Hear My Song,” was honored as Best British Newcomer by the London Film Critics Circle and the Evening Standard British Film Awards. Chelsom’s second feature, “Funny Bones,” won best picture honors at five European film festivals. However, judging by the textual and visual properties of this mediocre picture, any Hollywood hack could have made it—it's that pedestrian and impersonal.

 

Cast

 

Hannah/Miley – Miley Cyrus
Robby Ray – Billy Ray Cyrus
Lilly – Emily Osment
Jackson – Jason Earles
Oliver – Mitchel Musso
Travis Brody – Lucas Till
Vita – Vanessa Williams
Ruby – Margo Martindale
Oswald Granger – Peter Gunn
Lorelai – Melora Hardin
Mr. Bradley – Barry Bostwick

Credits

 

A Walt Disney Pictures release and presentation of a Millar/Gough Ink production. Produced by Alfred Gough, Miles Millar.

Executive producers, David Blocker, Michael Poryes, Steve Peterman.

Co-producer, Billy Ray Cyrus.

Directed by Peter Chelsom.

Screenplay, Dan Berendsen, based on characters created by Michael Poryes, Rich Correll, Barry O'Brien.
Camera (Deluxe color), David Hennings.

Editor, David Moritz.

Music, John Debney.

Production designer, Caroline Hanania.

Art director, Elliott Glick; set decorator, Marthe Pineau.

Costume designer, Christopher Lawrence.

Sound, Glen Trew; supervising sound editor, Todd Toon.

Visual effects supervisor, John Fragomeni.

Visual effects, Asylum Visual Effects.

Stunt coordinator, Steve Hart.

MPAA Rating: G.

Running time: 102 Minutes.