Hannah Montana: The Movie

Movie Information

The Story: Pop-star Hannah Montana/Miley Stewart is taken back home for a two-week stint to keep her from "going Hollywood." The Lowdown: Overly cheerful pap about the values of rural life wrapped around a pop-star fantasy aimed at young, impressionable girls.
Score:
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Genre: Musical Comedy Drama
Director: Peter Chelsom (Shall We Dance)
Starring: Miley Cyrus, Emily Osment, Billy Ray Cyrus, Lucas Till, Vanessa Williams
Rated: G

The best thing that can be said about Hannah Montana: The Movie is that it isn’t this week’s Observe and Report (a film I watched even though I wasn’t reviewing it). At the same time, I have to confess that I got a good deal more enjoyment out of Dragonball: Evolution (a film I watched because I had to review it) than either of the other two. That should put this into perspective.

A degree of my distaste for Hannah Montana rests on the movie’s complete waste of director Peter Chelsom’s talents (what was the man thinking?). OK, so maybe Chelsom isn’t among the greats of filmmaking. And yes, he has to answer for the star-studded disaster Town & Country (2001). But he also made such agreeable films as Serendipity (2001) and Shall We Dance (2004), and such early charmers as Hear My Song (1991) and Funny Bones (1995). In contrast, Dragonball merely squanders the abilities of James Wong, the guy who gave us the Final Destination series.

OK, I know I’m not the target audience for this movie—or even a hapless parent, who might be dragged to it by some dewy-eyed tot (my nearly 33-year-old daughter has less than marginal interest in Miley Cyrus). For that matter, I didn’t even have to review Hannah Montana. Co-critic Justin Souther actually offered to do so. It was a nice gesture, but I was curious to see if maybe Peter Chelsom could make something out of whatever the project offered. At least my curiosity was satisfied.

The whole movie revolves around the bizarre notion that the fictional Hannah Montana character is actually the fictional Miley Stewart character (something a blonde wig keeps the whole world from noticing), who is actually Miley Cyrus in real life. Somewhere in that conceit there is almost certainly something deeply philosophical, but I’m too worn out by the film’s frantic need to be frantic to poke around for it. Well, Miss Cyrus (as herself) assured us a week or so ago that we’d be surprised by how deep the movie is, so maybe this is what she meant. My feeling at the time of watching it was that it was sufficiently deep that I mightn’t be able to extricate my feet from it without losing both shoes.

The plot finds Miley Stewart losing touch with her roots and the genuine person she once was, owing to her celebrity status as pop-star Hannah Montana. Things reach crisis level when Hannah gets into a shoe-store fight where she tries to skewer Tyra Banks with a stiletto heel. Civilized people might well consider this a laudable attempt, but dad Robby Ray Stewart (real-life Miley dad Billy Ray Cyrus) takes a dim view of it and whisks his cash-cow daughter off to Crowley Corners, Tenn., for a deprogramming dose of appallingly idealized “real life”—that’s “real life” as envisioned by folks whose idea of such was obviously cobbled together from the more backward examples of 1950s sitcoms.

In Crowley Corners we find endless picturesque vistas, a hunky farm boy (Lucas Till, Walk the Line), an evil land developer (Barry Bostwick, reminding us how long ago Rocky Horror was), an endlessly wise grandmother (Margo Martindale, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story) and Miley introducing “a little hip-hop” at a hoedown. There’s also a lot of forced slapstick (who decided Billy Ray Cyrus was a physical comedian?), some random country singers (I have no idea who they were) and more life lessons than you can shake a stick at (a pastime that would be more profitable than watching this movie).

It’s obvious that Peter Chelsom put quite a lot of effort into making the film look good, and he invests a lot of energy into making the musical numbers lively and interesting. The problem is that the songs—apart from “Rock Star,” which was appropriated from Lustra’s “Scotty Doesn’t Know” from the 2004 film Eurotrip—are stunningly unmemorable and no amount of swish pans and interpolations of fantasy can overcome that. In the end, it’s just a lot of wasted energy on a project the vapidness of which staggers the mind. Rated G.

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

7 thoughts on “Hannah Montana: The Movie

  1. Margaret Evans

    Mr. Hanke, at least you acknowledged that you are far from being the target audience for this movie. Had you gone with your seven year old daughter, as I did, and witnessed her delight, you might be a little less harsh!

    For the record, in case you’re interested, the country singers you didn’t recognize included Rascal Flats (the birthday party scene, then later on the porch), and Taylor Swift (the pretty young blond at the hoe down…). I also recognized former American Idol finalist Bucky Covington on stage in that scene. I don’t even listen to country music, but these are pretty big stars!

  2. Ken Hanke

    Had you gone with your seven year old daughter, as I did, and witnessed her delight, you might be a little less harsh!

    There’s a chance that might be true, yes, but it wouldn’t make the film actually better.

    I don’t even listen to country music, but these are pretty big stars!

    I admit ignorance in this area, but not only do I not listen to country music, I don’t as a rule watch TV, nor do I follow entertainment news outside the realm of movies very much.

  3. Ken,

    I guess I was surprised that you even reviewed this one. Which prompts the question as to why you even see some movies that will likely be awful. Perhaps that is part of being a true movie critic, maybe hoping for the surprise or sleeper. It’s not necessarily a criticism exactly because I genuinely like your reviews — even if I disagree. I haven’t seen this movie nor do I plan to, but in the age of American Idol, I can pretty much write this one down as genuinely craptastic, just another reason why so many bad movies are made; because people will pay to see American Idolish nonsense. And they get what they want.

  4. Ken Hanke

    Which prompts the question as to why you even see some movies that will likely be awful.

    Of course, the smart-ass answer is that I can’t send Justin to all of them. There are more serious answers, though.

    From a purely practical standpoint, I couldn’t afford to keep doing this if we only reviewed movies that weren’t likely to be awful. Yeah, that’s kind of mundane, but it does play a part.

    But readership plays a part, too, since it’s an established fact that a significant portion of the readership likes the bad reviews. I’ve even had Neal Reed, manager of the Fine Arts, tell me he can’t wait to read a review when something predictably painful comes out. I’m assuming that’s because he thinks such reviews are amusing or entertaining. I have to assume that, or I’d be forced to conclude that Mr. Reed has a streak of the sadist in him.

    Also, I’m interested in getting and giving as complete a picture as possible of the current movie scene. Early on, I decided that we should — so far as is possible — review everything that played in the area. (I think we missed one hot-gospel four-waller that played for a week at the Epic.)

    It’s not necessarily a criticism exactly because I genuinely like your reviews—even if I disagree.

    Thank you.

    I haven’t seen this movie nor do I plan to, but in the age of American Idol, I can pretty much write this one down as genuinely craptastic, just another reason why so many bad movies are made; because people will pay to see American Idolish nonsense. And they get what they want.

    And in a way that’s another reason for reviewing such movies — to point out that very thing. It may do little or no good, but at least it got said.

  5. I think I get more pretentious (or discriminating) every day so I usually won’t pay to go see much at major theaters. I usually save my money for the Fine Arts Theater or the brew and view. But I think I agree with Mr. Reed. I particularly liked one of your reviews that I can’t even honestly remember… I think it was a movie based off some trashy barbie-like doll. It could have been a dream of mine, but it was an entertaining review — even it was only in my mind.

    I’m getting mostly off topic now, but noticed that you have a certain disdain for the Will Ferrell and Jim Carrey schtick. I don’t have the same general dislike, but I see where it gets annoying. I wonder if that is partly derived from the fact that you think they are capable of more — or you just hate the predictable stuff that they do over and over again; perhaps both. I’ll go ahead and kill my credibility by saying I liked Talladega Nights… not the movie, but I always cling to certain scenes that make me laugh no matter how ridiculous… I guess that’s the sadist in me, liking some ridiculously bad movies. I think Carrey and Ferrell are both really talented if they step outside of the same goofy routine they always do. (Blame them or blame Hollywood?) And I was totally surprised by Yes Man even though Carrey was being Carrey in parts. That aside, it was still charming — maybe because I have the hots for Zooey Deschanel even when she’s in a turd movie.

  6. suvu singh

    i wants to talk director of hana montana Peter Chelsom. iam ten years girl and i wants to be achild actor pls my mamu also wants to be

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