Starring: Miley Cyrus, Billy Ray Cyrus, Emily Osment
Director: Peter Chelsom
Running Time: 102 mins
Hannah Montana: The Movie is an American film following Hannah Montana after a series of press controversies involving her behaviour that lead her father to take steps and send her back to her hometown in Tennessee to get some perspective on her life as a music star and a normal girl.
I won’t lie, I watched Hannah Montana from time to time when it was on the Disney Channel. Not voluntarily, mind you, but a complex TV sharing agreement with my 10 year-old sister meant that I got a consistent feed of Miley Cyrus’ world-famous alter ego, meaning that I didn’t go into this movie entirely blind.
Knowing the TV show and all Disney Channel movies, though, I had next to no expectations for Hannah Montana: The Movie, and I can say that those expectations were met perfectly. Although not quite as painfully plastic as some others, this is an irritatingly dull and unimaginative film, dragging itself along with a very shallow, predictable story that’s only punctuated by the odd (rather underwhelming) musical number.
Now, to criticise Hannah Montana: The Movie for missing out on properly cerebral storytelling isn’t particularly fair, and for the young girls that the movie is actually aimed at, there’s little to really criticise about it.
So, looking from that perspective for a moment, this movie may be a plastic Disney production, but it at least tells a fairly positive, kind-hearted story, with a message that not only focuses on accepting and appreciating what’s good about yourself, but also not giving up entirely on what you’re passionate about when the going gets tough.
Again, it’s nothing particulary original or bold, but there are a couple of perfectly heartwarming moments here and there, and for a movie that’s squarely aimed at a young audience, it’s rather nice to see it take a more positive and upbeat approach.
In truth, though, there’s not really anything else to praise about Hannah Montana: The Movie. As I mentioned, it tells a very basic, one-dimensional story that – as well-meaning as it is – makes for a really boring watch throughout (for those who aren’t in the target audience).
With a story that’s so simplistic and frankly dull, there was little about this movie to really keep my attention, with the exception of a central theme that seems to open the door for a potentially interesting and even touching coming-of-age twist.
As Miley finds herself under increasing pressure from all sides to keep her alter ego secret, there comes a moment right towards the end of the film where she seems to accept fate and, for both her own personal wellbeing and the better of those around her, give up her life as Hannah Montana.
And for a brief moment, I was really impressed with the film’s boldness in effectively bringing an end to its title character’s story. However, things quickly take a turn back to earth as Hannah Montana finds a way to live on, ending the movie on a really disappointing and underwhelming note for me – albeit I’m sure the opposite for proper fans of the series and character.
Finally, then, a word on the music. Disney Channel movies always have a couple of songs here and there, but most of the time they’re very, very forgettable, and serve no purpose in the story. The latter remains the case in Hannah Montana: The Movie, as the film works more as a compilation of Hannah songs than anything else, but there are at least a couple of catchy numbers.
When I say catchy, I don’t mean that you’ll be singing them all week long, but some of the classics from the TV show and a couple of new additions are surprisingly full of energy, and provide perhaps the best entertainment of the whole film.
Anyway, as you would probably expect, Hannah Montana: The Movie isn’t worthy your time in the end. Unless you’re a 10 year-old girl in the late 2000s, there’s pretty much nothing to enjoy or engage with in this movie, and despite a well-meaning story and the odd fun musical number, this is a really dull watch, with a painfully basic story and a disappointing failure to capitalise on the one potentially exciting bit of drama at stake, and that’s why I’m giving it a 4.2.