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Hannah Montana The Movie (2009)

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 8/18/2009

All Ratings out of
Movie: 1/2
Video: 1/2
Audio: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 8/20/2009

When you are going to be a parent for the first time, there's always someone who comes along and tells you about how your life is going to change. Amongst the myriad changes which will take place, you are told that you'll never understand the love that you can have for another person until you have a child, nor could you have imagined the lengths that you would go to for someone else until you are a parent. Apparently, some of that is true, as I did something for my children that I didn't think was possible; I watched Hannah Montana The Movie.

Despite the fact that my girls, especially the younger one, are both fans of the Hannah Montana TV show, I've been able to actively avoid seeing an entire episode. Still, I know the basic story. Miley Stewart (Miley Cyrus) is a simple, seemingly average middle-school student who lives with her father, Bobby Ray (Billy Ray Cyrus), and her brother, Jackson (Jason Earles). She enjoys spending time with her best friend, Lily (Emily Osment). However, Miley leads a double-life. She dons a blonde wig and becomes ultra-popular singing sensation Hannah Montana. The show revolves around the idea that Miley must protect her secret identity and she must attempt to remain grounded and not let stardom go to her head.

As Hannah Montana The Movie opens, Miley is late for a concert and her Bobby Ray is furious. Following this, her manager, Vita (Vanessa Williams), convinces Miley that she must go to New York for a show. Because of this, Miley misses Jackson's bon voyage as he leaves for college and, due to paparazzi, she is forced to appear at Lily's birthday party as Hannah. Fed up with Miley's diva-like behavior, Bobby Ray has her take a detour from New York to the old family homestead in Crowley Corners, Tennessee, where Miley lived as a child. Bobby Ray tells Miley that if she can't come back down to Earth, then she may have to hang up the wig forever. Miley is reunited with her grandmother (Margo Martindale) and a childhood friend, Travis (Lucas Till). At first, Miley is miserable, as she misses her glamorous life, but she soon begins to adjust to the laid-back atmosphere of the farm. When she learns that the town needs money to save a large section of land, Miley decides that she and Hannah can help.

I'm not going to lie to you. When I sat down to watch Hannah Montana The Movie, not only did I expect it to be awful, but I expected it to be torture. But, I must admit that the movie took me by surprise in that it made some daring plot choices. It would have been very easy for the makers of Hannah Montana The Movie to simply create a long episode of the show, sporting all of the usual characters. However, they chose to take Miley out of her element and place her in a strange place where she's surrounded by new people. Thus, Jackson isn't in the film very much, and regulars Oliver (Mitchel Musso) and Rico (Moises Arias) only have cameos. However, this admirable strategy to actually shake things up a bit may backfire and distance the film from the fans who made the show a hit to begin with.

OK, so much for my rational review of the movie. Here's the truth, Hannah Montana The Movie is terrible. I know that I'm not the target audience for this movie, but it's simply a bad movie. Other than having Miley go to Tennessee, I don't think that the writers put any thought into the story. This is the most predictable movie ever made (and I don't mean that as hyperbole), and only the youngest viewers who haven't seen many films will find any of this surprising. I accurately (and vocally) predicted many of the events from the film's first act, but when the "the town needs saving!" plot appeared, I was simply stupified. From that point on, everything in the movie lined up in a nice little row, with no cliche left untouched. Of course, I guess I shouldn't knock a franchise which asks the audience to take such a leap of faith to begin with. No one realizes that Hannah is just Miley in a wig? That's worse than Clark Kent's glasses.

While the change of scenery doesn't qualify Hannah Montana The Movie as a long episode of the show, it is simply a vehicle for Miley Cyrus' songs. And while I won't/can't comment on her music, I can say that Miley is a terrible actress. She has no idea what subtlety is, and she mugs for the camera more than Bill Cosby. The makers of Hannah Montana The Movie have placed some competent actors around her, but the spotlight is Miley's and all that it does is highlight her lack of screen presence.

But, enough of my bellyachin', back to my kids. What did they think of it? When we watch a movie together as a family, they usually immediately want to watch it again, or argue over who will get to keep it. That wasn't the case here. They simply left the room and it wasn't mentioned again until I stated that I needed to finish my review. Their apathy should carry much more weight then my tirade.

Hannah Montana The Movie has a predictable hound dog on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 32 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, but there is a slight amount of grain, which surprised me. There are no defects from the source material. The colors look very good and the image is never too dark or bright. There is no shimmering to the image and the level of detail is good. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.5 Mbps. The track delivers clear audio and sound effects. I guess that this movie was graced with a 7.1 track because of the music, which does sound good, as it fills the speakers and shows very noticeable stereo effects. However, other than that, we have a fairly standard audio mix, which a smattering of stereo and surround effects that are nice, but not overly impressive.

The Hannah Montana The Movie Blu-ray Disc contains several bonus features. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Peter Chelsom. The Disc contains four DELETED SCENES which about 11 minutes, complete with introductions by Chelsom. All but one of these are somewhat brief and two of them focus on Jackson's shenanigans. We get seven MUSIC VIDEOS; "The Climb" by Miley Cyrus; "Back to Tennessee" by Billy Ray Cyrus; "You'll Always Find Your Way Back Home" by Hannah Montana; "Let's Get Crazy" by Hannah Montana; "The Climb" by Miley Cyrus (again?); "Bless the Broken Road" by Rascal Flatts; and "Crazier" by Taylor Swift. "The Hoedown Throwdown Home Experience" (25 minutes) examines the hip-hop hoedown dance from the film, with the actors commenting on the dance, and we then get step-by-step instruction on how to do the dance. "Find Your Way Back Home" (15 minutes) shows Miley touring Franklin, Tennessee. "I Should Have Gone to Film School - with Jason Earles" (15 minutes) has the actor giving us a tour of the set and showing various aspects of the filmmaking process. "Fun with Hannah & the Gang" is a 4-minute blooper reel.

Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long