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Miley’s movie shockingly tolerable

POSTED: April 8, 2009 10:00 p.m.
/Disney Enterprises

While the plot is dippy and the lead character plays to a Disney demographic, Miley Cyrus, above, pulls off a family-friendly movie.

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I did not hate “Hannah Montana: The Movie.”

That isn’t the sort of critical praise Disney will quote on a poster or DVD cover, but it is praise nonetheless. Because all sorts of things had me ready to hate this movie.

First, there is the absurd premise that no one in the world ever discovers Hannah’s true identity.

Second, the tabloid media is on Miley Cyrus overload. We hear about this girl constantly, so who would volunteer to watch her for 100 minutes? (A note on that: the girl is 16. I was an idiot at 16, and so were you. Give the kid a break.)

Third, the movie is completely unsophisticated and mindless. We know going in that it’s Disney marketing to a demographic.

Fourth, the story is as weak as it gets.

Miley Stewart (Miley Cyrus) finds it may be impossible to have “the best of both worlds.” The fame found with her Hannah Montana persona threatens to completely overtake Miley’s identity and values. She misses a sweet 16 birthday bash for her best friend Lilly (Emily Osment) because she’s busy shopping with her manager Vita (Vanessa Williams). When she is about to choose an award show appearance over her grandma’s birthday party, Daddy (Billy Ray Cyrus) takes her back to their hometown in Tennessee for a sort of come-to-Jesus two week vacation.

Turns out that quaint hometown is on the verge of being ruined by an evil developer’s plan to build a mall. Hannah puts on a show, hoping to raise enough money to stop the developer. She also falls for handsome farmhand Travis (Lucas Till, who grew up in Atlanta). Meanwhile, a devious paparazzo (Peter Gunn) chases Hannah/Miley around, hoping to uncover her real identity. (But mostly, he just falls down a lot.)

It’s a hodgepodge of music movie clichés: putting on a big show to save (fill in the blank), famous musician being chased by a reporter, a simple misunderstanding threatening to ruin the romantic subplot.

But no one enters “Hannah Montana: The Movie” expecting stellar writing and filmmaking. It is harmless fun and an excuse to see Miley and guest musical stars Taylor Swift and Rascal Flatts performing.

I came in having seen none of the show and knowing none of Miley Cyrus’ music. I was mostly curious about how Achy Breaky Billy Ray’s daughter had somehow become a phenomenon. Thirty minutes in, I understood completely. For all the girl’s faults, she exudes an undeniable charm. Even her dad is downright likeable.

Am I calling “Hannah Montana: The Movie” a “good” movie? You shouldn’t ask such ridiculous questions.

The movie attempts to please only one group: pre-teen fans of the show. And that is as it should be.

Those fans will devour it because it gives them exactly what they want: dippy comedy, infectious pop tunes and a character living out every young girl’s dream.

Parents won’t mind it because there is absolutely nothing harmful about this genuinely G-rated movie. Even when the big kiss happens (don’t spoil that for your kids), the camera moves behind the characters so we don’t actually see lips meeting lips.

And even snobby critics, if they’re being honest, will have to admit that this movie is shockingly tolerable.

Jeff Marker is a media studies professor at Gainesville State College.



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