Before watching the latest Hannah Montana DVD release, Who is Hannah Montana? I had never watched a single episode of the show- not even a brief YouTube clip. I’ve also never seen the Hannah Montana feature film that came out last year.
I was 22 years old when Hannah Montana debuted on the Disney Channel in March 2006. Miley Cyrus and her Hannah Montana character were both 14 years old, and Disney Channel execs were aiming for an even younger audience. I have no younger siblings, and I wasn’t doing any babysitting back then, either.
But I haven’t been living under a rock! Ever since 2006, the whole Hannah Montana phenomenon was certainly noticed by me. The celebrity tabloids started filling with photos and stories about Hannah Montana star Miley Cyrus. And while browsing Claire’s or the toy department, I’ve seen Hannah Montana dolls, wigs, and other officially licensed merchandise everywhere.
Now it’s November 2010, and the last episodes of the show have already been filmed. Miley has had success in movies unrelated to Hannah Montana, and she’s already had some pop hits under her own name. Parents have complained that Miley has been acting too sexually provocatively, when her fans are apparently impressionable young girls. But Miley has recently turned 18, and she’s made it obvious that she wants to be seen as a sexy woman instead of a Mouseketeer for the pre-teen set.
But, there’s still money to be made from all of those millions of young fans. This newest Hannah Montana DVD, Who Is Hannah Montana? features the debut of a special hour long season four (last season) episode in which Hannah Montana reveals her secret identity, Miley Stewart, to the world.
Frankly, the episodes on this DVD will never be considered among Leonard Maltin’s Great American Films, so to review this release fairly, I must consider Hannah Montana’s target audience. The DVD includes the series’ pilot episode, and episodes from each season, so it gave me an excellent chance to understand the show as a whole.
The theme of this DVD is the moments when Miley Stewart reveals herself as Hannah Montana to others. Miley Stewart is a pop star, but she wants the Best of Both Worlds- to have a life as a celebrity and as a normal teenager, at the same time. In order to achieve that, she puts on a blonde wig and uses the stage name Hannah Montana when she’s working as a pop star, and she goes to school and hangs out with friends as Miley. By simply wearing a blonde wig, no one can tell that she’s really a famous person! Hey, if the glasses worked for Clark Kent…
The show seems like it’s art imitating life. It doesn’t help that the role of Miley’s dad, Robby Ray is played by Miley Cyrus’ real father, Billy Ray Cyrus. Billy Ray and Robby Ray have both been country music stars. Miley has the same first name as her character, taking cues from Tony Danza and Tim Allen. Miss Cyrus is now a pop star, just like Hannah! But poor real life Miley doesn’t have a secret identity to hide behind, I wonder how that makes her feel?
The young actors on this show, Miley Cyrus, Emily Osment, Mitchell Musso, Jason Earles and Moises Arias, are always overacting. But ten year olds don’t want subtle Oscar worthy performances. The show does an excellent job of staying amusing for viewers with short attention spans.
The seven episodes on this DVD are full of Vaudeville-style physical humor. The fourth graders watching this DVD won’t know what Vaudeville was, so the Disney Channel is their Vaudeville. Miley Stewart pours her iced tea on her on again, off again boyfriend Jake Ryan when he tries to make up with her, by landing on the beach from a parachute. When rabid Hannah Montana fan Oliver Oken sticks his hand in the window of Hannah/Miley’s limo, she gets her dog to kiss his hand. He thought he received a kiss from her, and tells the whole school about it. In the pilot episode, when Oliver and Miley’s best friend Lilly Truscott sneak into Hannah’s dressing room, Hannah/Miley covers her face in cream pie, so that they don’t discover her true identity.