Miley Cyrus has had the "best of both worlds" so long that she's a little reluctant to give it up, even when she's plainly ridden that Hannah Montana horse into the glue factory. She comes to the crossroads of her career with Hannah Montana: The Movie and can't quite walk away from the role that made her famous.
The movie is a modestly budgeted big-screen spin on her Disney Channel TV series — a couple of production numbers, a couple of name actors added to her usual ensemble. But as a showcase for the teen aging out of teeny bopper, it does her no favors. On TV and on CD, her limited vocal range can be hidden behind production. On TV, quick cuts, juvenile scripts and a wig can hide her lack of acting range. But in a 100-minute movie with no action and almost no plot, you're forced to confront those shortcomings.
Miley Stewart is living the dual life — rock star Hannah Montana one minute, Malibu girl-next-door Miley the next. But dad Robby Ray (Billy Ray Cyrus, her real dad) sees her "going Hollywood," getting into shoe fights on Rodeo Drive with Tyra Banks. He sentences Miley to "Hannah detox," a couple of weeks in Crowley's Corner, Tenn., where her granny (Margo Martindale) lives. Miley rebels, but before you know it, she's wearin' britches, courtin' the local cowpoke (Lucas Till) and droppin' her consonants.
We get a few concert moments (one with Billy Ray), a little save-the-town-from-the-developer (Barry Bostwick) drama and more of that vintage schtick of Hannah and Miley having to be in two places at once (a tabloid reporter is trying to discover her secret double-life). The movie feels slapdash, with clumsy changes of scene and every Miley line sounding rushed and under-rehearsed. Her dad is less concerned with performance than with touching up the dye job on his soul patch.
They could both stand to sit a spell and watch Martindale do "folksy." She's the only character who seems like a human being.
As teen fantasy, Hannah has worked well enough to meet fan approval. And I liked her concert film from last year. But Hannah Montana: The Movie, inoffensive though it is, suggests they're over it. Maybe we should be, too.