Hannah Montana: The Movie Peter Chelsom

Hannah Montana: The Movie Peter Chelsom
I will always remember April 6, 2009 as the day I lost my Hannah Montana virginity. Though beloved by millions of young girls across the continent, I had somehow lasted a full three years without bearing witness to the performances of the erstwhile Miley Cyrus in any of her multimedia incarnations — a TV series, several CDs and a full-length concert film all passed me by. It is also entirely possible that I will miss her forthcoming Nintendo Wii videogame and her just-published autobiography. Actually, I take that back. I will try to find time to read her autobiography.

A few words first about Miley Cyrus: I was not expecting much but surprisingly enough, I like this kid. Yes, her music is bubblegum but she has a decent voice and, more importantly, a winning screen presence. She's perky and likeable, and handles both her comedic and dramatic scenes quite capably. This movie may have flaws but she is not one of them. This is more than I can say for her spectacularly untalented on- and off-screen father, Billy Ray Cyrus, whose awkward line readings sound like Elvis Presley suffering from indigestion.

Unfamiliar though I was with Hannah Montana's back-story, it didn't take me long to catch up on the details. Miley Stewart (Miley Cyrus) is a full-time student by day but unbeknownst to all but her closest friends, her alter ego is Hannah Montana, the world's most famous teenage pop star. Miley, a brunette, keeps her identity hidden by donning a blonde wig whenever she switches to her famous persona, a gimmick only slightly more believable than the Clark Kent/Superman glasses on/off disguise.

Sensing that the Hannah persona is taking over Miley's life, her father Robby Ray (Billy Ray, in what is definitely not a method performance) ropes her into spending two weeks on the family farm, where she reconnects with her grandma, and finds chemistry with a local boy, and discovers that the community is being threatened by sinister industrialist, and, and... I dunno.

This is the type of children's movie where adults shrug their shoulders and say, "It is what it is" — "what it is" being a polite placeholder for "formulaic crap." I suppose it will play well to its target audience — Miley's various moral dilemmas may be compelling to those audience members who haven't lived long enough to see many movies.

Hannah Montana: The Movie is harmless catnip for younger viewers, although I can't shake the feeling that they should be entitled to better entertainment than this. (Disney/Buena Vista)