Spoiler: Smiley Miley and Hannah Montana are the same person and this movie says so! Eight-year-old girls of all sexes and ages are now allowed to cry their eyes out. All others who find themselves at the excruciating endurance test that is Hannah Montana: The Movie have only themselves to blame. Unless, in imitation of Patty Hearst, they have been kidnapped and taken to the multiplex at gunpoint. Nothing less than brainwashing by the Symbionese Liberation Army could explain why Sam Rubin of KTLA-/Los Angeles is quoted in ads proclaiming Hannah Montana as “SO FAR, BY FAR, THE BEST MOVIE OF THE YEAR” I mean, Race To Witch Mountain, maybe. But this?
The “this” is a big-screen version of the TV series that Miley and dad, Billy Ray Cyrus, have been doing for the Disney Channel since 2006 when Miley was just 13. Daughter and dad use assumed names (she’s Miley Stewart and he’s Robby Ray Stewart.) I’m assuming so the public won’t think their real lives are this dull. The plot is Disney-for-Dummies basic: Miley is a country girl from Tennessee who moves to Los Angeles where she leads a double life as pop star Hannah Montana. The blonde wig she wears as Hannah fools everyone. In the movie, Robby Ray hijacks Miley’s New York-bound jet to her home in Crowley Corners so Miley can get in touch with the girl she was. To her credit, Cryrus is way too scrappy to layer on all the sugar the script requires.
The most shocking thing here is the fact that Peter Chelsom directed it. His 1995 movie Funny Bones is a genuinely transgressive piece of dark comedy. I can’t detect a trace of Chelsom in Hannah Montana, which means he won’t have to wear a blonde wig to hide his shame. Advance sales on Fandango indicate that 77 percent of U.S. moviegoers intend to pay up for Hannah Montana sugar shock on its opening weekend, compared to 1 percent for Seth Rogen’s wildly inventive Observe and Report. Thems the facts. “Pop it, lock it and polkadot it,” as Hannah sings in the film’s “Hoedown Throwdown.” I left Hannah Montana: The Movie feeling like a stranger in a strange land — the American multiplex.