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IN SHORT: Painless for us grownups. Fun for the fankids. [Rated G. 102 minutes]
For those who love the Disney Channel teevee series, we don't compare with Source Material -- meaning the usual dumb shlub (whether critic or parental unit not watching over the kidlets who watch the teevee series) should understand what is going on while going in blind. Hannah Montana the Movie meets that criteria. Those parental units not lugging a six year old to the theater -- and ours was full of 'em. Big surprise to us -- can let the older kidlets sit up front and feel "big". For those younger, especially fans of the Disney series, Hannah Montana, the Movie will be a good first trip to a big screen movie cineplex.
Begin with Miley Stewart (Miley Cyrus) and her BFF Lilly Truscott (Emily Osment) showing up for a prsumably sold out Hannah Montana concert in Los Angeles. The only problem? Miley is Hannah Montana and, while her anxious father paces the backstage halls inside, the star is locked out without credentials. Designed toi make perfect sense to a six year old, said lockout leads to a breakneck golf car race through the bowels of said colosseum or forum or wherever the concert is and... c'mon folks, there's no way to turn Hannah Montana the Movie anything close to any kind of epic.
We didn't write any of the following down, expecting the painful sit which never occurred. So if we're a wee bit out of order for those who want dish beforehand, sorry. Get over it.
Open with a big concert. Continue with an offer of some kind of gig at some kind of Music Awards in New York so that publicist Vita (Vanessa Williams) can go bananas at the misfortune of the other star who had to cancel. Add a random, and unfortunate, encounter with teevee personality Tyra Banks while buying shoes and a major disaster at BFF Lilly Truscott's (Emily Osment) sweet sixteen -- it's all the fault of a pesky Brit tabloid reporter (Peter Gunn) who's been stalking Hannah since the beginnning of the movie -- and daddy Robby Ray (real life dad Billy Ray Cyrus) Miley's has had all he needs to set his foot down and trick her -- you read that right -- into returning home to Crowley Corners, Tennessee for her grandmother Ruby's (Margo Martindale) birthday party. Ruby specializes in fixing things up. Like people. Like new neighbor Lorelai, forman at her farm and as attractive as she is single. Daddy isn't averse to the fix up, if you know what we mean, but there's a kidlet friendly story to get in motion and t hat begins at the farm where Miley meets a really cute boy (who she doesn't recognize from a shared first grade classroom, years before. He is Travis (Lucas Till) and anyone over the age of, oh, fifteen knows what's coming next.
No you don't. It's a "G" rated film.
Miley mentions, in passing, that one of the benefits of living in the big city is that she knows the big music star Hannah Montana! What she doesn't know, at that time, is that nasty real estate developer Mr. Bradley (Barry Bostwick) plans to turn Crowley Meadows into a mall. Miley, of course, loves that idea (she is from LA) and the locals assume that she can use her friendship with popstar Montana to do a banefit concert that will raise enough money to defeat Bradley's nefarious plans.
OK, big star, big concert, big problems, big solution, big request, big request, big concert. What did we miss? <g>
Well we were tremendously impressed by the way the filmmakers managed to avoid showing a kiss -- any kind of lip to lip contact actually -- at all. Again, this is a "G" rating but . . . not even a peck of a kiss? What. Ever. The band Rascal Flatts (Gary LeVox, Jay DeMarcus and Joe Don Rooney) sits in as Miley/Hannah's band. We should also mention that Jason Earles plays the now you see him now you don't older brother Jackson. That's the basics and that's all you're gonna get here. The Hannah Montana audience is well established. We don't see this film bringing in numbers larger than that of the teevee show.
That being written, we don't put a dollar rating on family films. Either they're appropriate and parents can sit in the back and let the little ones feel "big" up front or they're not. Hannah Montana the Movie is the former and not a bad seat for any ignorant parental unit. We did see far more four year olds at our press screening than we would have expected but, all in all, there's no reason not to bring them, too.
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