"Her admirers aren't here for cinematic substance or realism, they're here for Hannah."
We all want to be Hannah Montana.
At least I do, after seeing the movie, along with every other girl aged 6-14 in the theater that clapped and cheered.
What little miss wouldn't want to be her? Hannah's idyllic double life is the best of both worlds. She's a down-to-earth, chestnut-haired teen trading dishwashing duty with dad, hanging out with school pals, and getting faced with volleyballs in gym class. And a blond, pop-star sweetheart that sells out stadiums and wrestles for designer shoes with Tyra Banks.
(I'd even consider settling for being her best friend Lilly. What average high schooler can rent out a Santa Monica amusement park for her sweet-16 b-day bash?)
Everything's swell for Hannah until a celebrity dirt-digger from Bon Chic magazine gets a whiff of a scoop and may stumble on her secret. And, hectic costume changes cause Hannah to trip up Miley's life -- she accidentally arrives as Hannah instead of Miley at Lilly's party and steals her BFF's spotlight. Dad, aka, Billy Ray Cyrus decides she needs a Hannah detox and tricks her into jetting home to Tennessee for Grandma Ruby's birthday, rather than fly to the New York music awards.
Ah Tennessee ... a utopia of knee-slapping country sing-alongs, grassy open spaces gilded with sunlight and Miley's wig-free locks blowing in the breeze -- in slow motion. Here, Smiley Miley's just another clumsy farm girl in a country brimming with good ole' boots-and-britches folk. Her only care is capturing the heart of golden-haired, blue-eyed cowboy Adonis, Tyler -- and composing new songs and line dances. Like a foot-fuddle-ingly complex yet irresistibly catchy hip-hop hoedown, aka the Hoedown Throwdown -- "Pop it, lock it, polka dot it!" (This ain't 50-Cent's hip-hop.)
But alas, her hometown does not remain as a utopia for long. When Crowley Meadows desperately needs to raise tax money to avoid the invasion of evil real estate developers, Hannah and her trusty platinum wig are called upon to save the day. (Which means more heartwarming troubles and wholesome hijinks, as she tries to keep her dual-identity hidden from Bon Chic and Tyler.)
Though Billy Ray has a few center-stage scenes -- singing at a barn dance and a cringe-causing Stooges catastrophe involving commemorative plates -- Miley/Hannah is undeniably the star in this showcase. Sure the film overdoes the slo-mo effects and morphs into a music video more than once. But her admirers aren't here for cinematic substance or realism, they're here for Hannah. Well, Miley. Whatever.
So what is it about her that fans find so appealing? Dorkily accessible, sweet and talented, she's the best of both worlds for a tween fan. A soulful-voiced, polka-dotted, pop princess you can admire and aspire to be, and an endearingly imperfect and ordinary BFF or Tennessee bumpkin just like you.
Like all responsible family films this one wraps up with an uplifting life lesson. And as required in movie universe, it must be confessed on stage, in front of a crowd. Miley, of course, also writes a song about it. I too learned a lesson from watching Hannah Montana: The Movie.
Resistance is futile.