Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds
directed by Bruce Hendricks (Disney, 2008)

I am expecting my "Father of the Year" award to arrive in the mail any day now.

I deserve it. After all, it was my wife who made plans to take our 10-year-old daughter Molly and her BFF Caroline to see the Miley Cyrus movie, not me. It was only after the arrangements were made and both girls were excited beyond reason that my cunning wife told me she had to work on the evening in question, so I should have fun at the movies.

Grrrr. Hoodwinked again!

Ah well, at least I could take some comfort in knowing my daughter looked to wholesome Miley as a role model, not the Britneys, Lindsays and Parises of the world. God, how I rejoiced when she asked for a Hannah Montana doll last Christmas and got rid of those underaged, oversexed Bratz!

So, there I was, sitting in a theater packed with preadolescent girls and a few stoic parents. Moms, mostly -- I don't think I saw another dad in the bunch. And everyone was wearing big black 3-D glasses to get the full Miley experience. I knew I was in for a different sort of evening when the audience didn't laugh during the previews, it giggled. Collectively, in unison. Still, it was worth it just to see a preview of the upcoming Neil Gaiman animated film Coraline, as well as some other impressively 3-D features on the horizon.

Then, of course, it was time to meet Miley. If you're not already aware (meaning, if you don't have a young daughter), this movie isn't a big-screen version of Miley's popular Disney Channel series, Hannah Montana. This is a 74-minute-long 3-D concert video from Miley's recent sold-out tour. I'll mention here that the jacked-up $15 ticket price was outrageous, especially given the film's brevity, but I suppose it's a bargain compared to actual concert tickets, which were going for hundreds. Disney was no doubt counting on the large number of parents willing to plunk down the extra cash to keep their daughters happy but, come on, it's not like Miley's college fund is hurting.

But I digress.

After an initial pop-idol blast with "Rock Star," the film hurtles back four weeks to the beginning of tour rehearsals. Then it's off to St. Louis for opening night, and "Life's What You Make It." Meanwhile, my daughter's eyes were riveted to the screen, probably memorizing every single dance move so she can torture me with them nonstop in the days and weeks to come.

While a couple of Jonas Brothers songs seemed largely forgettable (although some of the chair-dancing girls in the theater with me might disagree), Miley's performances (both as herself and as TV alter-ego Hannah) were charged with perky energy -- and her smiles never flagged. Although she did slow things up once for "See You Again," a touching tribute to her late grandfather, the bulk of the performance was filled with high-energy numbers like "G.N.O.," "Let's Dance" and, of course, "The Best of Both Worlds."

On the technical side, this is an excellent concert production. The 3-D effects add amazing levels of depth to the film, putting the audience right in the middle of the action as confetti flies, glo-sticks wave and fireworks pop right in your face. Unless you had front-row tickets at an actual concert, this is the best view of Miley you're likely to get.

I'll be honest here, Miley's music is never going to be my music of choice (even though her songs are catchier than a lot of the pop-princess dreck on the market). But it's still refreshing to see a young star who seems to have her head together, who seems to value family and friends over fame, who seems to be avoiding the pitfalls that have felled so many of her peers. As role models go, my daughter could do much, much worse. The concert itself is an enjoyable production that makes good use of the latest 3-D technology.

And it was all worthwhile when my daughter threw her arms around me after the show and proclaimed me the best daddy in the world for taking her.

review by
Tom Knapp

16 February 2008

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