Miley Cyrus juggles her real life and her alternate pop persona in this G-rated family comedy filled with solid music. This entertaining 102-minute movie continues showcasing the dual personas of Miley Stewart and Hannah Montana from the previous Best of Both Worlds concert movie.
Miley Cyrus has been a Disney Channel mainstay since 2006 when she was 13. The new screen story moves from Hannah’s Beverly Hills-type exploits, including a tiff with Tyra Banks, to Miley’s fun-loving personality. Predictably, most conflict in the story relates to Miley’s life, but you know things are not really that bad if the movie uses paparazzi as the villains.
Billy Ray Cyrus gets to play his real life role as Miley’s father, Robby Ray. He’s a typically protective yet caring dad who’s neglected his personal life. When this family duo returns to their home town, Crowley Corners, Tennessee, they reconnect with their roots, making a dramatic touchstone for their futures.
The music is strong enough for a recommendation due to the quality and solid integration into the story. The daddy/daughter duet, "Butterfly Fly Away," is a tender ballad that capstones a very relatable relationship, but not necessarily from character development in the story. Rascal Flatts and Taylor Swift also make music performance appearances.
On the television series, Brooke Shields played Miley’s mom in short remembrance scenes and only appears in a photo during the film. Screenwriters expand that void a bit with Melora Hardin who plays Lorelai, Robby Ray’s friend/love interest.
Emily Osment plays Miley’s best friend Lilly while Lucas Till, who plays childhood friend Travis, vies for that position when Miley revisits her roots in Tennessee. Margo Martindale plays the wise, no-nonsense matriarchal character Ruby.
The young male stars who migrate from the television series to the big screen include Jason Earles, who plays Jackson Stewart, Miley’s older brother. Earles also features his hosting potential in the entertaining "I Should Have Gone to Film School" featurette. Osment and Cyrus also get a featurette where they tour their hometowns of Nashville and Hollywood.
Mitchel Musso also stars as Oliver/Mike while Moises Arias, who plays Rico, has also recently branched out beyond acting as a commentator at the Little League World Series. Vanessa Williams has a prominent role as Miley/Hannah’s publicist Vita while Peter Gunn plays British paparazzo Oswald Granger, who’s featured more in the deleted scenes than the actual movie. The iconic Beatles-like fan chasing scenarios still appear, but this movie focuses on avoiding Oswald to protect Miley’s real identity and create several sight gags and comedy.
British director Peter Chelsom could have added even more slapstick and originality to boost appeal. The wide angle shot on a ladder sight gag would have been better, and riskier, with a point-of-view shot instead.
This home video set includes the standard DVD, Blu-ray, and a digital copy plus a Surround Sound and widescreen option with Spanish and French spoken language/subtitle options.
The "Hoedown Throwdown” Dance Along, seven music videos and cast dance feature shows audiences some moves and gets those toes tapping. The standard bloopers, audio commentary, and deleted scenes entertain and inform audiences about film production details.
The movie soundtrack is the only thing missing for fans, which presents an interesting point – the music videos work well, but will studios start packaging movie soundtracks with the home video version? Record companies could find a new way to boost sales/chart position (remember Prince packaging Musicology with his concert tickets?).
The 18 feature songs provide sizable appeal with obvious references to the Hannah persona ("The Good Life," "Everything I Want") and Miley ("Back to Tennessee," "You'll Always Find Your Way Back") plus some simple, fun numbers like "Let's Get Crazy" and "Crazier."
This movie definitely hit the target audience mark with the best opening day for a live action, G-rated movie. The predictable ending strays from the fun tone to address drama from the two main character arcs. Some stereotypes and commercialism weaken the movie, but target and general audiences can find a wide variety of appealing elements here while Hannah fans won’t be disappointed.