If there should ever appear a list over the most unnecessary movies ever made, "Hannah Montana The Movie" would definitively top that one. Believe it or not, but these words comes from a former "Hannah Montana" fan. From a objective standpoint, this movie makes a safe and decent family entertainment. Decent, not great. It seems as the good folks at Disney has finally realized that parents are ought to follow their kids to the theaters and has made a film that is bearable to them, too. But one thing is to make a film which appeal to all ages, another thing is make a coherent and compelling movie. With the latter, "Hannah Montana TM" fails completely. Sure, a coherent movie wasn't expected from such a cheesy concept as "Hannah Montana", but the movie also turns back to the series spirit and strips away the good components of the show; the likeable characters, the humor and the great music. Beware that there might be a slight spoilers below...
On the positive side, despite some slapstick moments, "Hannah Montana TM" appears as surprisingly more mature than expected, which is admirable on it's own. The dialogue is surprisingly good and the film has a few enjoyable moments, as the energetic opening, the shoe-fight with Tyra Banks, the Hoedown-throwdown and Miley's back-and-forward running between her dinner at the Tennessee major and her love interest, Travis (Lucas Till). The few scenes between Miley and her grandmother Ruby (Margo Martindale) gives the film weight and most of the acting is quite decent, too. Miley Cyrus may not be the greatest or most charismatic actress out there, but she has screen presence and pulls off the funny and emotional moments well. The most noteworthy of the rest of the cast is the likeable Lucas Till. This is a movie adaptation of a show where you don't need to have seen the series to know what the concept is about.
Unfortunately, the rest of the movie isn't much to brag about. In one of the interviews on the disc, director Peter Chelsom declares that he got this movie exactly as he wanted it be. Well, such a statement makes me doubt about Chelsom's visions as a director. After seeing the film, it seems that he haven't been sure of which movie to make. All the different components feels separate and doesn't flow well together as a whole.
Most of the humor is slapstick and is provided by the stupid and obnoxious British reporter Oswald Ranger (Peter Gunn), which feels forced and out of place. But with the exception of slapstick sequences, "Hannah Montana TM" is absent of any real humor. Jackson (Jason Earles), who's one of the funniest characters on the show because of his lines and charismatic personality, is only present to provide slapstick. Lilly (Emily Osment) has no a purpose on the film or has barely a funny line and Oliver (Mitchel Musso) and Rico (Moises Arias) has been reduced to cameos. Even Billy Ray Cyrus as Miley's on-screen dad, which despite the lack of acting skills provides a likeable father figure on the show, appears as generic in the movie.
The screenplay is based on a worn-out "discover your roots and get a better person" storyline. It would have been a nice lesson to children if the film had a final conclusion that actually made sense, but the unclear ending is one of the reasons that makes you wonder if this film even had a purpose. But there are a lot of things that doesn't make sense; one of them is the notion that no' one is able to see that Miley and Hannah are the same person. Yes, this has been pointed out by many reviewers, but at least in the show the notion makes more sense, since Miley doesn't surround herself with the same people that she does on her school. In the film, Miley surrounds herself with the same people all the time. How can they not tell them apart? Or easier said; How can nobody (even Oswald) recognize Miley's voice as Hannah during the "Hoedown Throwdown" sequence?
The film has several plot holes, but also with several subplots, which doesn't always flows in with the cohesiveness of the main plot (as with Jackson's subplot, which is barely present, but mostly ignored). At least Miley's secret gets discovered in this film, after the peppy running back-and-forward sequence. The mood fades and so does actually the rest of the film, which just feels wrapped up and just becomes incredibly sentimental. As Miley and her fellow casts funny attitudes fits perfectly on a frisky TV show, they just appears as extremely misplaced in a drama. Watching them on a serious concept, is just as seeing a bird without wings. And the several slow-motion shots comes off as superfluous and unnecessary.
And there's the music. One of the most enjoyable components of the "Hannah Montana" concept are the songs. Despite of them being mostly teen-pop, they're mostly catchy and listenable. But with the exception of "Let's Get Crazy", "Hoedown Throwdown" and Taylor Swift's "Crazier", the songs are disappointingly uninteresting and quite shallow. On the other hand, John Debney's score is his best work in recent years. And funny enough, Swift manages to outshine Cyrus as a performer on her brief cameo.
This movie was released in the middle of the third season of the show and could have been a practical way to end the series. But Disney has already ordered for a final, fourth season. So the question is; Was this movie really necessary? The answer is no! This movie doesn't add anything to the plot or develops it's characters! It adds absolutely nothing to the "Hannah Montana" conmcept and it's just a big waste time and money. And it's just a proof how far Disney is willing to market their products for cash and for what it's worth.
Despite of a mediocre movie, the DVD contains a quite few of entertaining bonus features. First up is a Audio Commentary by director Peter Chelsom. Most of the time, Chelsom provides an informative and listenable commentary. Although he doesn't cover up the biggest plot holes and repeats himself a few times during the track, it's still worth a listen, despite of his movie turned out to be crummy one (at least for my taste).
Next up is four deleted scenes. After a 41 second intro from Chelsom, we get "Jackson: I 'm Pretending to be at University" (4:31), "How Are We Gonna Get Hannah Down to Crowley Corners?" (1:37), "Oswald and the Hannah wigs" (2:25) and "Oswald, the Ostrich and the Alligator" (1:20). All of these clips has brief intro's by Chelsom, which tells about why they got deleted. With the exception of "How Are We Gonna Get Hannah Down to Crowley Corners?", which is a nice scene where Miley plays guitar in a hammock, it's easy to see why the other scenes were deleted. And if Jackson's subplot explanation was deleted, why did the parts of the subplot survived in the final movie?
Next up is "I Should Have Gone to Film School" (15:15). Hosted by Jason Earles (Jackson), the clip is a frisky and fast-paced "Making off"-featurette, which contains short interviews with the cast and crew. Despite a few misplaced cartoony sound effects, the short still reveals some interesting trivia about general movie making and Earles' sympathetic personality makes the short an overall interesting watch.
"Find Your Way Back Home" (15:00) is my favorite of the bonus features, which is basically a tour guide with Miley Cyrus and her mom Tish through their hometown Franklin in Tennessee (and a brief short with Billy Ray Cyrus bragging about Tennessee). It also follows Emily Osment (Lilly) in her hometown LA. A quite cute and energetic featurette, although is clearly that young Cyrus provides more energy and personality on-screen than Osment, which makes Cyrus' segments more enjoyable (at least for my taste)s.
The disc also includes a typical outtakes (3:48), Miley Cyrus' music video for the hit song "The Climb" (3:52) and "Blu Ray is Suite" (4:45) with Cole and Dylan Sprouse (from "The Suite Life" series), which is about Blu ray discs in general and seems to be an obligatory segment in every current Disney DVD/blu ray.
The "Hoedown Throwdown Experience" (14:39) is only available on the Blu ray Edition. The first five minutes are brief interviews with the cast and crew about the Hoedown Throwdown dance. Then we follow choreographer Jamal Sims and actors Mitchel Musso (Oliver) and Moises Arias (Rico) doing the dance step by step. A quite fun video and quite easy to follow.
In addition to "The Climb", the Blu-ray also includes several music videos; Billy Ray Cyrus' "Back To Tennessee" (4:22), Taylor Swift's "Crazier" (3:15), Hannah Montana's "Let's Get Crazy" (2:59), Rascal Flats' "Bless this Broken Road" (4:17), plus the movie sequences of "The Climb" (4:06) and "You'll Always Find the Way Back Home" (3:51). Why the latter numbers were included as segments in the Video section, is a remarkable question, considering that the numbers can already be seen in the final movie. Otherwise, with the exception of the former version of "The Climb" and "Back to Tennessee", the videos are in High Definition and includes several clips from the film.
The blu ray provides a nice, clear picture and a sharp sound. The Bonus features are overall mostly enjoyable, but unfortunately the same can't be said about the movie itself - at least for my taste. Perhaps Chelsom had the time of his life by making this film (as he stated in the Audio Commentary), but I didn't had the time of my life by watching this movie, which could have been better if it were in the hands of an other director. So it all depends on what you're looking for; If you're looking for a film to please the Hannah fans, this movie is a success. If you're looking for a G-rated film that the whole family can watch safely together, this movie will fit the bill. But if you're looking for a movie adaption which is equal to it's series, "Hannah Montana TM" may disappoint. Although most of the Hannah fans has warmly embraced this movie, my suggestion is rather to check out the show, you'll have more fun watching that.