Energetic Miley Cyrus is a dynamo in this bubbly concert film, a celebration of girlhood, of sisterhood, of the power of positive thought. The likable, ever-smiling 15-year-old positively shimmers with charm. Her sunny personality takes over both backstage and during performances. Sure it's slick, and on the surface about as light as cotton candy. But its underlining, and everpresent, message -- that a girl can be whatever, and whoever, she wants -- is powerful, and I think important for young girls to hear as often as they can.
The 74-minute movie begins backstage, but before long the show begins as Hannah sings "Rock Star." What hits you right away is the joy from the girls in the audience -- both onscreen and, at least in my case, in the movie theater. They scream, wave their waves and sing along to every word. The electricity is matched onstage, as no one seems more excited to be there than Hannah/Miley herself.
Disney heartthrobs the Jonas Brothers (or, as the young girls around me referred to them, "THE JONAS BROTHERS!!!!!!") soon join Hannah onstage, and then perform by themselves. During this time we follow Hannah as she heads backstage, takes off her wig, and becomes Miley. When she returns, the songs are a little edgier and at times a little sexy. Miley works the stage like a pro during the sisterhood anthem "Girl's Night Out" and the flamenco-inspired "Let's Dance," then sits down to sing, and play guitar to, "I Miss You," a tribute to her late grandfather.
Interspersed with the show are rehearsal segments -- Miley and her dad traveling together to the studio and later singing a duet at home, Miley's mom describing how she helps her daughter change clothes backstage, and fans and their dads (often wearing long blonde wigs themselves) saying why they like Hannah/Miley. A funny contest segment shows dedicated dads duct-taping high heels to their big feet to enter a race to win tickets to the concert.
For the most part the 3D effects are mild, and simply serve to immerse you in the show. Though some things come at you (including a flicked guitar pick, a jabbed microphone stand and some flying drum sticks), the real illusion of depth comes from people and objects receding away from the screen, a technique which appears to bring Hannah/Miley slightly closer.
As a parent watching this young open-faced girl, I remembered seeing Britney Spears perform at the peak of her stardom. She also had a screaming, adoring crowd of preteen girls, and was equally pretty, stylish and talented. Miley, though, has more to work with. She has the benefit of engaged parents, as well as the protective power of Disney, the latter not just at the beginning of her career, but also as it explodes. Here's hoping they help spare her Britney's sad and ugly road.