Hannah Montana: The Movie
Miley Stewart is just an average teen who goes to an average school. She has an average (goofy) brother, an average (groan-inducing joke-cracking) dad and average friends. But add a dab of blush and a blonde wig and KAPOW! she's a rock star.
She's Hannah Montana.
Living that kind of secret dual existence can be pretty fun, she thinks. Like being Superman—but with backup singers and a band.
Lately, though, it's a little tough for mild-mannered Miley to take off her superstar bob. Wrestling with Tyra Banks over one-of-a-kind designer shoes can take up so much time. And that's only one of the many events that keep those flashbulbs popping.
But when Miley's dad, Robby Ray, sees the celebrity lifestyle changing his little girl into someone he no longer recognizes, he takes the reins into his own hands. And the family gallops back home to Crowley Corners, Tenn., for a two-week dose of Hannah-free reality.
(Of course, life in this little imaginary town isn't all that rough. Taylor Swift and the guys from Rascal Flatts live just down the street.)
It's not easy for the limelight-addicted teen to adjust, but she starts to see the advantages that a more sane home life can hold—including the possibility of an oh-so-cute country boyfriend. Even her widower dad meets a pretty love interest.
Oops! Here come the paparazzi.
Miley is petulant and angry when she first learns of her dad's plan to give her a break from her career. "I think we might be done," Robby Ray tells his daughter. She yells back, "Hannah means everything to me!" Dad replies, "And that just might be the problem." But even in the midst of the turmoil, the bond between them stays solid. Miley ultimately apologizes for her choices and rebellious attitude, and she sings Dad a song praising his love and hard work as a single father.
Although he sometimes seems oblivious to Miley's schemes (how else could she wind up in so many crazy predicaments), Robby Ray always approaches her with a loving and instructive hand. Likewise, Grandma Ruby is a caring and wise matriarch. She openly expresses her love for both her son and granddaughter. She gives Miley a necklace that belonged to the girl's mother, telling the teen that her mother would be proud of her.
In fact, the whole town of Crowley Corners appears to be made up of people who care for one another and go out of their way to help. Providing contrast to the fast-paced, publicity-hungry craziness of L.A., Middle America is presented as easygoing, healthy and happy.
Throughout their relationship, Miley's boyfriend, Travis, is a gentleman. He says that he's drawn to Miley's heart over Hannah's stardom.
According to a song lyric, "God blessed the broken road that led me straight to you."
Teenagers now, Miley and her friend Lilly have a few more curves than they did in the early days of the TV version of Hannah Montana. And while never going for broke, the two accent those new teen lines with shorter shorts and form-fitting—low-cut—tank tops. Hannah usually wears short skirts onstage. Travis and Miley jump (clothed) into a pond on a couple of occasions; he takes his shirt off once.
Miley's Hollywood manager wears cleavage-revealing outfits. Taylor Swift wears a shoulder-baring top. Girls in bikinis are seen on the beach. And women dancing in a local restaurant/club wear low-cut tops. Miley and Travis share a brief kiss, as do Robby Ray and his date.
Stumble-footed pratfalls are mostly carried out by Miley or a nosy reporter named Oswald Granger. Miley, for instance, trips over fences, tumbles off chicken coops and gets bonked on the head with everything from a volleyball to a coconut. Granger crashes through a table after skidding on a pile of walnuts. He somersaults down a hillside to land face-first in a mud hole. Robby Ray, meanwhile, smashes Grandma Ruby's collection of painted plates. And a banquet table is set on fire.
Less funny, even though it's still played for laughs, is a scene in which Miley's brother Jackson narrowly avoids becoming an alligator snack. Jackson is also bitten by a ferret scampering around in his trousers.
Crude or Profane Language
One exclamation each of "oh my god" and "oh lord." Characters also say "jeez," "gosh," "heck" and "dang."
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
To punk a nosy reporter, Miley switches sample bowls of salsa so he gets a mouthful of super-hot instead of sweet and mild. (She never swaps them back, either, so all we can do is hope some little old lady isn't the next to grab a chip!) Then she lets down the tailgate of a pickup truck, sending an entire bed full of walnuts rolling down the road for people to fall on. It's funny, playful stuff ... unless you're the owner of the walnut truck. In the movies it's mischief, but in real life, maybe vandalism on a police report if anyone bothers to file one.
There's also lying and deception throughout the film, not just from Miley, but also from friends and family trying to protect her Hannah secret.
Well, if there's one thing as certain as hounds lovin' naps in the sunshine, it's that there won't be any acting awards handed out for Hannah Montana: The Movie. But, of course, since this lightweight adaptation of the lightweight Disney Channel series looks to be a surefire tween magnet (remember Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert?), I'm sure nobody prone to wearing mouse ears is going to sweat that little detail.
After all, Miley Stewart's trip back to Tennessee is simply a goofy lark designed to give adoring fans a chance to visualize themselves romping around in Miley Cyrus' place. Giggling girls in audiences around the world will see themselves riding next to that handsome young cowpoke. They'll imagine the fun of pratfalling their way through campy slapstick, and singing and dancing their way to cornpone glee.
I'm a dad. I have a girl. So I understand all that. I can even accept it. But there was something, nonetheless, that made me flinch a bit while I watched this movie:
Throughout the story, Robby Ray tries to make sure the average, girl-next-door sweetness of his teen daughter's personality isn't overwhelmed by her ritz-and-glitz rockin' Hannah side. And even Miley realizes that average and sweet aren't all that bad. But just as she's about ready to choose brunette ponytails over all the pomp, the cheering throng convinces her that her life could never be "normal" without Ms. Montana's golden locks.
That's when my movie reviewer hat suddenly fell off and somebody rammed my dad hat down into place. I sat up a bit straighter and thought, "Oh, really?" Does life need to include cheering crowds to be happy? Can't a loving family and good buds be plenty? And isn't that, in a way, what Miley Cyrus is wrestling with right now? It appears from the outside that even she is wondering "How much of this glitz do I embrace?" as she sometimes tiptoes and sometimes stomps around her own kind of double life.
In a recent Associated Press interview, Cyrus was asked what kids should do if they're torn between pursuing an acting dream or going to college. The article reported that with her usual "unfiltered candor" she replied, "I say 'do it.' Be a freak. Go to Hollywood."
My dad hat started pinching my scalp when I read that. Many a broken heart has come from wishing on that particular star. Some would say you're better off playing the lottery than trying to break in at Disney. And sometimes I think young people are so inundated with these sparkling images—created, if we're being honest with ourselves, only to sell the next load of merchandise—that they have a hard time sorting out the real from the fake, even without a secret persona. And it makes me wonder if we're steering them wrong with this sort of entertainment. Even when we're simply trying to give them a good time.
OK. So maybe I'm trying to dig too deep into all this. After all, there's a whole lot of family love rolling around this film that'll inspire a whole bunch of people to care a little bit more about those closest to them. But that's honestly what I walked out of the theater thinking and asking myself. And as my dear old grandmother used to say in her own down-home sensible way: "There's no question worth wrestling with in your heart, that isn't worth askin' out loud."
Of course she'd usually say that just before yelling to my mother, "Get this kid out from under my feet. He's asking too many questions."
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Miley Cyrus as Hannah Montana/Miley Stewart; Billy Ray Cyrus as Robby Ray Stewart; Emily Osment as Lilly Truscott; Jason Earles as Jackson Stewart; Margo Martindale as Grandma Ruby; Lucas Till as Travis Brody; Peter Gunn as Oswald Granger