I never expected to be thrown for a metaphysical loop by the adaptation of a chintzy Disney Channel smash, but, of course, I never expected that someday I'd be a thirtysomething dude sitting in a movie theater on a school night surrounded by giddy hordes of delirious tweeny girls. Once the screams subsided after a few moments, there was head space to ponder the mysteries of a movie about a manufactured pop star trying to find her true self, that is, in turn, one of the most processed, extruded and prefabricated phenomena imaginable.
Miley Cyrus stars as Miley Stewart, a gawky teen girl who — sort of like Wonder Woman — dons a blond wig and becomes singing sensation Hannah Montana, a superstar character Cyrus also performs in real life, and whose image is plastered on all manner of posters, toys, pencil boxes and Trapper Keepers as far as the eye can see. This despite that she looks like a Muppet with its face squished against a windshield. Miley's dad Robby Ray is conveniently played by Miley's real dad, Billy Ray, who frets onscreen over the rampant commercialization of his daughter, while offscreen he's built an empire by shamelessly pimping his little angel like Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver.
The flimsy plot finds Miley getting way too cozy in the Hollywood lifestyle, her alter ego; therefore Pop imposes a two-week timeout back on the farm. So it's off to pastoral Crowley Corners, Tenn., an idyllic country dreamland of lush, rolling hills, tall grass and big dollops of folksy homespun wisdom doled out by Grandma (Margo Martindale). There's also a hunky cowboy with whom Miley can flirt, and a comely farmhand (Melora Hardin) for Dad to mack on, in between impromptu front-porch sing-alongs.
Trouble soon arrives when a sneaky tabloid reporter turns up and a wicked developer (Hi there, Barry Bostwick!) is keen to turn nearby meadows into a shopping mall (symbolic, eh?), as if these poor hicks wouldn't kill for a Macy's and an Orange Julius stand. To stop said development, it's time to raise cash by throwing a gosh-darn show, with guest spots from Taylor Swift and Rascal Flatts — all after seemingly endless pratfalls and identity-crisis dilemmas that rival a Haley Mills flick.
At the big moment, the Hannah wig gets ripped off and the "true" Miley emerges. The crowd quickly clamors for her to re-wig, preferring shallow fantasy to killing off a sacred cash cow. Hey, just like life!
Corey Hall writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.