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Even Cowgirls Get the Blues

MOVIE REVIEW
Hannah Montana: The Movie (2009)

059-HMC-05397
Sam Emerson/Disney Enterprises

“Hannah Montana” is much like the Easter bunny. The premise of this lucrative Disney Channel franchise, about an average teen who dabbles in pop superstardom as an extra-curricular activity, is a lie most parents probably deem harmless enough not to burst their kids’ bubble over. This tall tale reaches new heights in “Hannah Montana: The Movie,” which idealizes a simple country life that is just as unattainable as celebrity.

The feature-length film opens with an extravagant birthday bash at a yacht club and a shopping spree down Rodeo Drive that ends with Hannah (Miley Cyrus) wrestling Tyra Banks over a pair of shoes. The Hannah alter ego has apparently eclipsed the identity of Miley Stewart on the home front, prompting her dad Robbie (Ms. Cyrus’s real-life father, Billy Ray Cyrus) to call for an intervention in the form of a visit to grandma’s farm. After throwing a brief tantrum, Miley decides to stick around once greeted by her childhood white pony and a super-cute hired hand, Travis Brody (Lucas Till). She chases livestock, paints the chicken coup, flirts with Travis, and brushes up her country music roots. When the small town is under siege from commercial development, Hannah Montana comes to the rescue by throwing a benefit concert. The plot culminates in a scene recalling “Tootsie” and “Mrs. Doubtfire,” with Hannah and Miley needing to be in two places at once in order to carry on the charade.

A paparazzo and a shopping mall developer serve as villains here, so “Hannah Montana: The Movie” doesn’t have to tackle the harsh realities of corporate farms and migrant workers so prevalent on the American landscape. Instead, the film opts for the CMT music video approach by featuring attractive young people in cowboy duds riding horses on the ranch by day and line dancing at county fairs by night. It’s true that legions of fans won’t likely find the reality traumatizing once they are old enough to finally grasp it. Nevertheless, the film is hypocritical in the moral lesson it attempts to impart. During the course of her time down on the farm, Miley learns that honesty is indeed the best policy. But then the story backpedals because she must perpetuate her white lie in order to enjoy the best of both worlds and for Disney to move a few more silk-screen T-shirts and microfiber backpacks.

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