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Hannah Montana: The Movie

Miley Cyrus in Hannah Montana: The Movie. © Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

THE latest Disney Channel phenomenon to make the leap from small screen to big is Hannah Montana, a school-girl who struggles to juggle everyday life with a secret pop-star persona.

It’s turned its star, Miley Cyrus, into a teen superstar and helped her father, Billy Ray Cyrus, to secure a major career revival. But in cinema form, the success of the franchise is as baffling as that of the High School Musical juggernaut.

Peter Chelsom’s film is painfully sweet, sickeningly feel-good and more than a little ethically challenged. It’s numerous flights of fancy also set an uneven tone between fantasy and reality.

Miley Stewart (Miley Cyrus) is a sweet natured Tennessee girl whose secret success as pop sensation Hannah Montana has started to cloud her judgement at the expense of friends and family.

Determined to set her back on the straight and narrow, her father Robbie Ray (Billy Ray Cyrus) tricks her into taking a trip back home for a dose of reality, during which Hannah rediscovers her roots and the things that really matter in life.

Chelsom’s film boasts 12 new songs and easy appeal for the Miley Cyrus fanbase, who doubtless hang on the singer’s every word and are as devoted and scream-happy as those depicted in the film.

But it’s also horribly contrived and wholly unsatisfying. Almost every character is a stereotype in some way, whether it’s Lucas Till’s good-looking cowboy and obvious love interest, Peter Gunn’s token bad guy [British] journalist or Margo Martindale’s overly caring grandmother.

The plotting, too, is lazy, with Miley Stewart/Hannah forced to transform from bratty teen to obedient daddy’s girl and her alter-ego destined to come to the aid of her home-town against a ruthless property developer.

Everyone finds a happy ending, everyone has a lesson to learn and key emotional moments are mostly delivered via song.

The songs, themselves, are country-based and pretty unmemorable, while each musical sequence has the annoying habit of having its characters miraculously know the words – one of several blurrings of reality and fantasy.

The final message, meanwhile, leaves a lot to be desired in the parenting stakes, as Hannah/Miley decide that it’s alright to lead a double existence and therefore lie to the general public. Call me picky, but…

As previously stated, Hannah Montana: The Movie will tick all the right boxes for fans of the series, who just by themselves will ensure the film a massive box office. But newcomers, or the uninitiated, may well emerge perplexed.

Certificate: U
Running time: 100mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: September 7, 2009