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Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Is Dr. Tongue Running Disney These Days?"
2 stars

Even though you would think that “Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour,” the heavily-hyped extravaganza featuring Miley Cyrus, the star of the enormously popular “Hannah Montana” TV series, performing songs from her current top-grossing “Best of Both Worlds” tour in the miracle of digital 3-D, would pretty much be a license for Walt Disney Studios to print money–is there a tween girl out there who doesn’t want to see it?–the studio seems to be going to extraordinary lengths to milk the phenomenon for every possible dollar with the kind of mercenary skill that is borderline shocking even for an industry that was built on exploiting momentary fads for all they are worth

There is the claim that the film will only be in theaters for one week–a move destined to goose the opening weekend grosses to astronomical levels (despite the competition from the Super Bowl) and one that will almost certainly be rescinded in the next few days in an effort to snare what is sure to be a hefty repeat audience. There are the astronomical ticket prices that theaters are charging–it appears that most theaters are rescinding their matinee programs in regards to this title and are charging top dollar at every show, a price that is even larger thanks to the increased cost brought about by the added expense of the 3-D glasses. (In Chicago, they were asking $15 a head, a price I cleverly eluded by buying a matinee ticket to “There Will Be Blood” and slipping in with the glasses that I kept from when I saw “The Nightmare Before Christmas 3-D.”) Then there is the hard-sell way in which the studio has put it out into the marketplace–in order to cut down on the possibility of bad reviews, the studio only screened it for a couple of people in New York and L.A. and left everyone else in between out to dry. (However, they thoughtfully sought coverage by sending links to newspapers of presumably favorable wire reviews penned by those critics whose opinions they trusted enough to allow them to see it ahead of time.) Combine all these elements together, not to mention its absolute lack of even trace amounts of artistic pretense and you have something that is nothing more than a Viable Commercial Product at its most coldly efficient–the kind of thing that will no doubt be analyzed more by business majors than film students.

As promised by the title, the film essentially offers viewers a chance to see the Hannah Montana phenomenon without having to get a second mortgage to afford the concert tickets. The show itself is a standard work of contemporary teen-pop extravagance–lavish sets, elaborate choreography, plenty of pyrotechnics, numerous costume changes and even a song or two amidst the chaos–that kicks off with Cyrus in the guise of her alter-ego knocking out a number of her hits songs for screaming throngs that know every single word by heart. At the halfway point, she steps out of her wig and costume to do the rest of the show as herself–I assume this is supposed to let us get to know the “real” Cyrus but the songs she performs in this part are pretty much the same interchangeable dance pop as she crooned as Hannah Montana (with the exception of one reasonably touching song about her late grandfather) and the ordinary girl pose she strikes in this segment seems almost more forced and artificial than her superstar persons. Interspersed throughout is behind-the scenes footage showing Cyrus as she goes through the intensive rehearsals for the show under the tutelage of tour director Kenny Ortega, horsing around with her friends and hanging out with famous father Billy Ray Cyrus (who gets the best line when he tells her that he has “played every Indian casino between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans”). Even with a two-song musical interlude from fellow pop stars The Jonas Brothers (whose outfits make them look like junior members of the Hong Kong Cavaliers), the whole thing only clocks in at about 74 minutes–long enough to presumably satisfy impatient kids and short enough to ensure the maximum number of screenings per day.

While I may be a newcomer to the Hannah Montana phenomenon (one of the advantages of being a bitter loner), I am no stranger to the giddy thrills that can be derived from mindless power-pop music–yes, I have albums from Katherine McPhee and Kelly Clarkson on my iPod and I am not ashamed to admit it. That said, it is hard to understand what all the fuss is about form a musical standpoint based on the material heard here. The songs aren’t very good– the lyrics are on the level of poetry usually seen scrawled on junior-high math book covers and the music is pre-programmed sludge–and after a while, they become virtually indistinguishable from the incessant din made by the crowds throughout the show. Look, we all listened to silly stuff when we were 12 (if you were my age, it was all about “99 Luftballoons” and that horribly catchy Men Without Hats epic “The Safety Dance”) and I know that I wasn’t expecting Cyrus to toss in Patti Smith covers or offer fans a bite of her inner Fiona Apple (you get the sense that if she even tried to do that, Disney would pull her off, have her shot down over Korea and find a cheaper and more pliable replacement who could portray a heretofore unmentioned cousin) but the music just grows monotonous after a while. As a result, the behind-the-scenes material tends to come as a relief–it not only offers us a brief respite from the relentlessly perky power pop but it also offers an interesting look at the mechanics and hard work that go into putting together a concert of this type.

The irony about all the soullessness on display in terms of the music and the merchandising is the film does do a good job of deploying its enormously likable central asset, Miley Cyrus. On stage, she goes through her songs with the kind of energy and genuine good cheer that is often absent in most contemporary teen-pop acts–instead of seeming like a slick robot merely going through the motions, she comes across as a spirited young girl who has been miraculously given the chance to actually live out the adolescent dream of rock stardom that we all fantasized about at one time or another and is clearly having a blast doing it. Offstage, she comes off as a sweet and level-headed kid who could legitimately serve as a positive role model for youngsters at a time when the phrase “positive role model” usually only means that upskirt photos of her private parts are not currently spread all over the Internet. Whether her popularity will last once the masses have moved on to the next best thing is yet to be seen but based on the evidence shown here, it looks as if she has a better chance of surviving whatever fate has in store for her than other pop princesses I could mention.

Let’s face it, any review of “Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour” is essentially superfluous–if you are a tween girl or the parent of same, you are most likely going to be seeing this and if you aren’t, I can’t imagine any power on Earth that could possibly induce you into going unless you are the type of person who watches “To Catch a Predator” and wonders how you apply to appear on it. While I can’t really recommend the film as a whole, I would say that if you are a parent being pressured into seeing it, you might as well cave in because while it could have been a lot better, the simple truth is that it could have easily been a lot worse. Besides, watching the film might actually inspire some of her fans to pick up musical instruments of their own and spark a new wave of musical talent that the good people at Disney can one day callously exploit.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=16874&reviewer=389
originally posted: 02/01/08 23:37:17
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User Comments

9/21/08 k. hanna montana sucks!her music is crappy and she can't act 1 stars
3/13/08 Wes My girls are STILL SCREAMING! We will get the DVD! 5 stars
2/07/08 SimbiAni sparkly fun cuuteness ;P 5 stars
2/05/08 Robert 15 per ticket for a 75 minute movie was a bit greedy on Disneys part. My daughter lov 2 stars
2/03/08 Veronica Jarvis FANTABULOUS!!!! My girls LOVED it! Hannah/Miley is so fun! 5 stars
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  01-Feb-2008 (G)
  DVD: 19-Aug-2008



Directed by
  Bruce Hendricks

Written by

  Miley Cyrus
  Jonas Brothers

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