If you do not have a pre-teen, you may not know who Hannah Montana is, but here is the basics. Miley Cyrus, 15-year-old daughter of Billy Ray Cyrus, stars in a Disney TV show. In it she plays herself basically, but she has a secret identity - she is also Hannah Montana the rock star. Her father keeps her stardom separate to give her a normal childhood. The theme song is entitled "The Best of Both Worlds."
For several months, Miley Cyrus was on a national tour as Hannah Montana. She was package for the tour by Disney with outstanding backup musicians, dancer, and singers. Choreographer Kenny Ortega taught her all the movies and no expense was spared in set design and special effects. Cyrus' job is to sing, strut like a rock star and occasionally dance. There is no question that the 15-year-old has talent and poise.
Disney has created a 3-D feature film on the concert. Initially released for one week only, the movie was number one in the country three weeks ago. Guess what? They have extended the release indefinitely, so if you missed it don't worry it will be around for at least a few more weeks. Even better if your pre-teen daughter only saw it once, she can go again, and again, and again.......
I saw the movie yesterday and was impressed with the editing, sounds, and overall story. It was better than I had expected. Without the 3-D effect, it could have easily been a Disney TV special. It was only a 1 /1/4 hours long. What I really objected to was the price - $15 per person, kids and adults, to watch what was pretty much a promotional film, for Hannah Montana CDs and the TV show. With refreshments it averaged $23 per person for what? Yet, the theater was full of oohing and ahhing preteens.
While the price was disturbing, as parent I was uncomfortable with what looks like exploitation of talented young woman. Her parents are in the movie to give it that "we care about our daughter" touch, but I was not convinced. In one scene Montana falls during dance number where she is tossed in the air. Ortega is reworking the number for her to be safer, but young Cyrus is obviously uncomfortable and scared. Her mother stands by insisting that she has to do this and it is just like cheerleading. Well, Miley gives in and the new dance number works better, but the expression on her face made me squirm in my seat.
For me the highlight of the movie is when she sings a song she wrote about her late grandfather. Sitting on a stool with an acoustic guitar, her sweet voice and emotional song were honest and beautiful. This was a rarity. Most of the movie features her in sparkly costumes strutting up and down a runway pumping her arm in the air and singing over-produced pop tunes.
In a time when Brittney Spears is hospitalized and Lindsay Lohan (another Disney alum) is in and out of trouble with the law, I felt sorry for Cyrus. I left the theater feeling as though she was a child playing dress up, and her parents and producers were milking her talent for every cent.