STUDIO: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
MSRP: $44.99
RUNNING TIME: 102 Minutes
•    •BD-Live™ — “Hannah’s Country Store” Allows You To Create A Wish List Of Products Inspired By The Movie!
•    DVD Of The Movie
•    DisneyFile Digital Copy
•    The Hoedown Throwdown Dance-Along — Learn The Moves!
•    The Dance Experience With The Cast
•    7 Music Videos
•    Cast Bloopers — “Fun With Hannah And The Gang”
•    Deleted Scenes
•    Audio Commentary On The film With Director Peter Chelsom
•    Find Your Way Back Home — Join The Stars As They Show You Around Their Hometowns
•    “I Should Have Gone To Film School” — Go Behind The Scenes With Jason Earles For Movie Secrets And More!

The Pitch

It’s Hannah Montana: The TV Show meets A Movie.

The Humans

Starring: Miley Cyrus, Billy Ray Cyrus, Vanessa Willaims Cyrus, Melora Hardin Cyrus, Barry Bostwick Cyrus, Peter Gunn Cyrus

“Wanna know how I got these scars?”

The Nutshell

Oh, if only this were There Will Be Blonde and Hannah Montana was a spoiled rich and famous oil tycoon who battles a priest for control of land. Instead Montana, a famous singer living in Hollywood, gets tricked into going home to Tennessee where she finds the true meaning of happiness and finds true love along the way.

The Lowdown

In full disclosure this reviewer has pretty much completely avoided the phenomenon known as Hannah Montana. I am aware of the show existing, that it is popular, and that as a result Miley Cyrus is a famous person. I have never seen the TV show, avoided the 3D concert movie after getting the gist of what it is, and like most people my last recollection of Billy Ray Cyrus was “Achy Breaky Heart”. So I like to think I sat down with Hannah Montana: The Movie with a fairly blank slate, an open mind to whatever the next 100 minutes would bring. So I think it is fair to claim that Hannah Montana: The Movie is a terrible waste of talent. Clearly a lot of work and money went into producing this film, and for its star I’m sure it is a major step to the type of stardom that transcends childhood, but the plot is trite, the situations comically cliché, and worst of all it is a musical with bad music.

There’s no joke here, but what a meta choice it is to have Brooke Shields cameo in a photograph as Miley’s dead mother.

There is a phrase in Tennessee that goes “Tennessee’in is Tennebelieve’in”. And so, when “regular” high school girl Miley Stewart (Miley Cyrus, in a stretch) lets her alter ego (emphasis on ego) singing sensation Hannah Montana conquer her life, her father and manager Robby Ray Stewart (Billy Ray Cyrus, with the least convincing fake I.D. name ever) kidnaps her and brings her home to Tennessee, where she will have to learn the hard way that farming and family are more important than concerts, shoes, and boys. Of course, by the end she will have farmed and familied her way back to concerts, shoes, and boys, but supposedly as a nicer person. Stewart, whether in or out of the blonde wig that suddenly makes her Hannah Montana is genuinely an unsympathetic, self-centered teenage girl for the vast majority of the film’s run time, and she is let off too easily for most of her behavior. Her friend Lily is no better, betraying Miley when she crashes Lily’s ridiculously gigantic sweet 16 birthday party- one of two ruined birthday sequences in the film- and Lily acts like an even bigger bitch when Miley tries to genuinely apologize completely betraying the long standing friendship they supposedly have. The moral standard set by these characters, supposedly role models for the children of today, is exceedingly low.

Along the way Montana is being pursued by one of the laziest stereotypical villains in film history, a bumbling English tabloid journalist named Oswald (Peter Gunn). A genuine musical opportunity is lost by not having the Peter Gunn Theme (possibly best known for its use in The Blues Brothers) playing at any point while the actor is on screen. He is given thankless scene after thankless scene, put into sub-Home Alone style slapstick situations that are too cartoonishly sad to be considered the least bit humorous. Apparently it is just fine for Miley to torture the man by feeding him hot peppers that were extra spicy instead of mild after switching the jars while he looks the other way, and then release an entire flatbed truck worth of walnuts onto the ground for him to slip and fall on. What the film fails to address is the many other patrons to that farmer’s market who most likely also ate hot peppers against their knowledge, or the owner of those nuts who now has lost an entire crop to Miley’s sabotage. Were there consequences here, she would have been jailed and most likely given community service for such acts. Similarly, when Oswald trips, he crushes a model of a future shopping mall that Barry Bostwick’s character is planning to build on a stretch of open land. That model, though it may represent a threat to open spaces and the purity of small town life, must have taken some architecture firm quite some time to build, at a great expense to Bostwick’s character (For the life of me I have no idea what the character’s name was, as he shows up only to introduce the threat of corporate greed and prompt a fundraising concert and then he is forgotten).

Godzilla awoke the next morning with a hangover, the word “balls” written on his cheek, and dressed as Ed Helms.

Of course there is also a romantic subplot tied into the film, and like a stick of Doublemint gum, you get two for the price of one. Both Miley and Robby Ray are given half-assed love interests that get too little screen time to actually feel fleshed out enough to go through the mandatory “I hate you, I love you, I hate you, I love you at the last moment with a grand gesture” archetype in any manageable fashion. Melora Hardin, best known as Jan from The Office, is Lorelei the foreman on the farm (for some reason) who then tries to set up a lavish dinner for the mayor and Hannah (for some reason) that is one of the most painful sequences in film history as Miley runs back and forth changing costumes between the dinner and a date with her beau, the stable boy Travis Brody (Lucas Till). This culminates in Lorelei being told by Robby Ray that he just doesn’t have time for a relationship to protect Miley’s secret identity and she storms off. As soon as (spoiler) Hannah is revealed to the world, she immediately seeks out Robby Ray in a crowd and kisses him passionately. No discussion, no time taken to process this deceit, just kissing. Lorelei is given so little to work with beyond being a love interest that her character isn’t even given a last name. Go back and reread this entire paragraph inserting “Travis” where you see “Lorelei” and you will understand the entirety of the romantic journey Miley and Travis go through, accentuated only by a scene of Miley in a gazebo mournfully playing guitar in a heavy downpour like a bad music video from the 1980’s.

The gazebo scene is one of several examples of musical plot holes in the film. Here you have Miley, depressed and trying to musically analyze her complex relationship with her father, who joins her in the remote gazebo. She tells her father that she wrote him a song, and begins to sing (autotuned to the Nth degree) and play it. Halfway through instruments that are not on screen join in, and what’s worse, she asks him to duet with her ON A SONG SHE JUST WROTE AND IS PLAYING FOR HIM FOR THE FIRST TIME.  Naturally, he joins in perfectly harmonizing on every word. This egregious mistake actually happens more than once in the film, though this is the worst offender. I know this is a musical film, but there is a film logic to breaking into song that is not used here, where every song is established by a performance, making the film grounded in a certain reality that is broken in these instances. Similar issues arise when Hannah plays her big finale concert to save the town, and despite arriving alone and making no mention of a larger performance, she now has not only a band but a group of backing dancers (with costume changes!) who join her inexplicably on stage. This is only salt on the wound of a previous scene in a local tavern, where for some reason a local band of local performers has a three woman backing vocal team.

Crowley “Tim” Meadows had one last ace up his sleeve: save his career by throwing the greatest benefit concert of all time.
It failed miserably.

By the end, if you are holding out for some sort of logical resolution even within the suspension of disbelief used in the film, you are completely out of luck. This is one of the single most idiotic endings in film history. (Spoilers) An entire crowd of hundreds of people, shocked by the reveal that Hannah Montana and Miley Stewart are one and the same, mutually agree to keep her secret. That’s it. Superman’s secret is safe with 500 people in a world where one man has been pursuing her secret for the entire running time of the film. Where such a news item or a photograph would be front page news in any newspaper and garner a million dollar deal for proof. You mean to tell me that the entire crowd is so good natured that they would all mutually agree on this simultaneously? That not one person has an evil inclination to betray Ms. Montana even for a moment? I call bullshit. Not only that, but Oswald her pursuer (who now somehow is a father of two English schoolgirls who are Hannah Montana fans who arrive in Tennessee for the climax of the film) also finds out the information and has a photo to prove it and instead calls his editor to quit his job on the spot. Surprisingly there is no epilogue where Oswald realizes the error of his ways; that he still has two daughters in boarding school with tuition to pay. Also in my imaginary epilogue is Miley and Travis’ relationship going sour when they realize they have different aspirations in life, one to become an international singing sensation and the other to sell eggs at the farmer’s market. Hannah Montana: The Movie is made with the subtlety to actually have a stagehand replace Hannah Montana’s rhinestone-studded mic stand with a regular black one when she decides that singing as Miley is just as good as singing as Hannah.

The Package

Hannah Montana: The Movie is very colorful and has a pretty nice 1.85:1 transfer which comes through nicely on the blu-ray format. The 7.1 DTS-HD master audio comes through more clearly than you would possibly want with songs of this quality. Packed with the blu-ray is a DVD copy of the film so that your kids can scratch the hell out of the film watching it incessantly while you and the wife keep the blu-ray in the privacy of your boudoir for “special nights”. Unfortunately the DVD copy of the film looks terrible with many signs of compression and edge There is also a debatably useful DisneyFile Digital Copy disc, in case you are willing to be seen in public with the film. BD-Live enables the owner of this blu-ray to assemble a wish list of Hannah Montana products on Disney’s site, promoting further capitalism and greed among youngsters.

Literateville was the only town that didn’t have an old crank.

Many Disney releases balance their special features between those that appeal to children and those that are for adults/animation buffs, but just like this film, it seems everything here is for those in be-“tween”. You can learn the dance moves for the “Howdown Throwdown”, a ridiculous hip hop/country song that is the worst combination of musical genres ever, which the entire cast dances during the closing credits of the film. For all you Rocky Horror fans out there, yes, Barry Bostwick dances it too, and I would imagine you will be too at future revival screenings of Hannah Montana: The Movie. Also on the disc are 7 music videos from various cringe-inducing songs featured in the film.

The extras continue with an audio commentary from Director Peter (Serendipity) Chelsom. Why there is a director commentary on this film is beyond me, but I can only assume it was in Chelsom’s contract. In fact, the commentary ended up being a true highlight of the disc, where we learn about how many special effects went into making the film (surprisingly there are a few) and how Chelsom cast friends of his in the ridiculous British villain roles. Despite the quality of the film, it seems Chelsom approached making the film like he would any (quality) film and this comes across in other special features as well, such as deleted scenes, which the director introduces and discusses in brief from an editing bay. There are a handful of deleted scenes included, the best of which is a Being John Malkovich “Malkovich entering his own head”-style scene of Oswald encountering an entire crowd of people wearing blonde Hannah wigs. Though I’m fairly certain their intention was not to reference that film.

“I don’t eat off these plates. Too much respect for the musicians. No, instead I eat off of old LPs.”

There is also “I Should Have Gone To Film School”, which attempts to teach Hannah Montana fans what goes into making a film by showing examples of the various crew members and quickly streaming their duties across the bottom of the screen like breaking news. It is hosted by Hannah’s “brother” Jason Earles, who seems pleasant enough and obviously is used to being on set with nothing to do. Rounding out the rest of the disc are “Find Your Way Back Home”, which has the stars of the film touring a documentary crew around their real hometowns and “Fun with Hannah and the Gang” which is code for some boring cast bloopers, none of which include Hannah lifting her wig aloft and calling out “By the power of Country Pop Music, I HAVE THE POWER!” Overall it’s a pretty stacked set of extras, with a quality A/V presentation that Disney can always be relied upon to produce. Too bad the film sucks.

2 out of 10