Boom Boom Clap, Boom Dee Clap, Dee Clap. It’s the hip-hop, hoedown throwdown. (see what I’m talking about here.)
Hip-hop and country. Like the Hannah Montana‘s theme song says, “You get the best of both worlds.” Ten minutes before the movie started, the two rows of what looked to be 14-year-old girls started singing the tv show theme song. Over and over again. The little 6- to 10-year-old girls that filled the rest of the theater were singing along and dancing in their seats. My 16-year-old daughter said with a big smile on her face, ‘Isn’t this fun?’ I said, with as much of a smile as I could muster, ‘A little bit.’
A little bit country. A little bit corny. A little bit touching. A little bit boring. Let’s face it, this movie is going to do really well because Hannah Montana is such a big Disney hit already. And her fans will not be disappointed. All of the show’s familiar faces, problems and hijinks are there. Montana’s brother Jackson (Jason Earles – anyone else think it’s really weird that this 32-year-old is playing an 18-year-old?) gets left out. Check. Trouble with Montana’s best friend Lilly (Emily Osment). Check. Hannah Montana (Miley Cyrus) is having an identity crisis. Check. Montana buddies Rico (Moises Arias) and Oliver (Mitchell Musso) are involved in sight gags. Check. Hannah’s Dad (Billy Ray Cyrus) finds another opportunity to sing with his teen sensation. Check.
Then there’s some new stuff too. There’s a new family member – Grandma Ruby (Margo Martindale) who’s tender-hearted but tough, helping Miley walk through what’s important in life, like saving a town and remembering where she’s from. There’s a new boy for Miley to like; a real cowboy named Travis (Lucas Till) who can ride a horse, paint a barn and still have grown up feelings about being tricked by Miley’s alter ego. And then there are, of course, new songs by Miley. “The Climb” is a decent song, but comes from the hokey “Life is a climb, but the view is great” line that gets said too many times. In fact, even once would have been too many times. The previously mentioned “Hoedown Throwdown” is fun and had dozens of people imitating the dance after the movie outside the theater. “Butterfly Fly Away,” which is done with her Dad, is a touching song that will, like “The Climb”, surely see some time on the charts. In fact, the soundtrack debuted at number 2 on the Billboard charts guaranteeing the Hannah Montana machine is not slowing down.
You also get a couple other songs that were fun additions to the not-quite-a-musical movie. Post-teen sensation Taylor Swift sings, “Crazier”. Billy Ray Cyrus sings his song, “Back to Tennessee”. And country supergroup Rascal Flats does acoustic versions of a couple of their hits: “Bless the Broken Road” and “Backwards”. It remains a mystery through the whole movie why Rascal Flats was at Ruby’s house in the first place singing in her living room and on her porch. It was good – but weird.
And that’s what I left thinking about the whole movie. It was good – but not great. Part musical. Part pre-teen comedy. Part teen angst. Part father-daughter drama. Parts of a lot of stuff that adds up to a movie trying to cover their bases from pre-teen to sixteen and their parents too. If you’ve got girls under the age of 16, you’ve probably already got them making plans to see it. Don’t feel guilty for enjoying it. Just enjoy it for what it is: Disney making you chuckle, and sometimes wince, while you tap your toes and sing along as they squeeze another few dollars out of you.
[xrr rating=3.5/5] stars if you have teen or younger girls
[xrr rating=2.5/5] if you don’t