Hannah Montana is introduced as the world's most popular teenager in the film version of her Disney Channel series. She's a fitting icon for this era's egotism, where artistic impulse is a desire for fame. Hannah Montana: The Movie is about as content-free as its star. It's an undistinguished mediocrity, only surprising in that a huge portion of 10-year-old girls consider it exciting. As a recent South Park episode instructed, at least wait till your late 30s to get this boring.
Still, it's hard to harbour resentment toward Hannah Montana: The Movie. It doesn't aspire to enough to mean any harm. Compared to the shrieky Spice World of 11 years ago, star Miley Cyrus' vanity project is comparatively laid back.
What it delivers is a simple lesson in down-home values. The movie operates on the premise that nobody beyond the star's family members and assistants are aware that Miley Cyrus and Hannah Montana are the same person. This makes it easy for Cyrus to pay a visit to her rural Tennessee home turf. Father Billy Ray and the rest of the Cyrus family sit around the campfire and living room playing songs. Cyrus falls for a country boy. She remembers that the real things in life happen outside of Malibu beach parties. You can't take the Montana out of the Hannah.
The film could have worked as a cross-cultural odyssey, with Cyrus interacting with unique personalities--something akin to Follow That Bird, and the first Pee-Wee Herman and Muppet movies. There's some imaginative plotting near the end, with Cyrus juggling her personas, running between a date and a formal dinner function. It's a treatment of a celebrity's busy appearance schedule that, if not successful, shows some effort as physical comedy. And there's a stand-out mortifying bit where she performs a hip-hop/country hybrid, conveniently titled "The Hoedown."
Mostly, though, Hannah Montana: The Movie is content playing on a flat, OK level. It hasn't the personality to commit to being fun.
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