Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Hannah Montana — The Movie

posted by Nell Minow
Lowest Recommended Age:All Ages
MPAA Rating:G
Violence/Scariness:Mild comic violence, pratfalls
Diversity Issues:None
Movie Release Date:April 9, 2009
DVD Release Date:August 18, 2009

Think of it this way. Hannah Montana is to Miley Stewart what Superman is to Clark Kent. Audiences of all ages but especially children and teenagers are always taken by stories of secret identities and hidden sources of power and mastery. It is a way of organizing their thoughts about themselves as unsure but constantly developing citizens of a world run by adults who have a power and ability that they look forward to. It is also a world they can feel themselves getting closer to, so it gives them a way to calibrate and understand their own changes and their progress. And it gives them a chance to think about the kind of adults they want to be.
So when Miley Stewart (played by Miley Cyrus) said she wanted the “best of both worlds,” to be a singer and a “normal kid,” the way to do it was to create a separate identity. With the wig and sparkles she is Hannah Montana, superstar. Without it, she is just plain Miley, who knows that her friends like her for who she is and not because she is famous. And many of the television show’s episodes focus on the challenges of keeping these worlds separate.

But as this movie begins, it is not just the logistics that are colliding. Miley Stuart is becoming a bit of a diva. After an hilarious brawl with uber-diva Tyra Banks over a pair of expensive shoes, Miley’s father (real-life dad Billy Ray Cyrus of “Achy Breaky Heart” and mullet fame) decides it is time for Miley and Hannah to have a reality check. He takes her to their home in Tennessee and tells her that after two weeks he will let her know whether it is time for Hannah to retire.

Miley is not yet an actress. She is so relentlessly sunny that she can’t quite manage the brief scenes where she is supposed to be pensive or unhappy. But she has an immediately engaging presence on screen and is so clearly enjoying herself that it impossible not to enjoy her, too. The script wisely plays to her strengths, giving her lots of chances to sing both as Miley and as Hannah and lots of chances to show off her high spirits and gift for physical comedy.
She is ably supported by Emily Osment as her best friend, Margo Martindale as her warm but shrewd grandmother, and Lucas Till as a handsome young cowpoke. Taylor Swift and Rascal Flatts show up for some musical numbers. Cyrus has a sweet duet with her dad and a cute hoedown dance.
The story may not have many surprises, but it will help kids think a little bit about growing up and dream a little bit about all the possibilities before them. Best of all, the movie will satisfy Cyrus fans and give their families a sense of why they love her so much.

Families should know that there is some brief mild schoolyard language (“screwed up,” “full of it”), slapstick violence (no one hurt), some tense family moments, reference to (offscreen, in the past) death of parent, and adults kiss
Family discussion: What does it mean to say “Life is a climb but the view is great?” Why did Miley have to keep her secret to have a “normal” life? Would you rather be like Hannah or like Miley? Why?
If you like this, try: The Hannah Montana concert film and television show, “The Lizzie McGuire Movie”

  • Albert the Abstainer

    Perhaps, but I keep on hearing deep inside: “It’s a marketing phenomena”.

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks, Albert! It isn’t called “show art.” It’s called “show business,” and every movie is intended to make money. The film itself is not cynical or exploitative and I enjoyed it.

  • Dustin Putman

    “Hannah Montana: The Movie” is the type of film you can pick apart until the cows come home if you really want to. At the same time, a person has to see it for what it is, and understand why kids are drawn to it. Miley Cyrus, whose grating personality turns me off when I see her on talk shows and in interviews, is surprisingly winning with what she has to do here. Still, what really turned me off was the ending. Without wading into spoiler territory, did it strike you as a hypocritical sell-out of the movie’s intended message? Just as Miley seems to finally become comfortable with herself as a person and a perhaps more thoughtful singer-songwriter, the movie turns its back on the possibility and ends with her reverting to her shallow, dishonest, bubblegum pop self.

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks for a great question, Dustin! SPOILER ALERT I don’t think the message of the movie was that Miley needed to be both characters openly in order to be a fully actualized human being. The fact that one tabloid reporter backed off did not mean that she would not continue to be vulnerable to a lot of intrusion. I think her reflection on her life led her to conclude that she continued to need a zone of safety around her Miley life. Indeed, it seemed to me that at the beginning of the film, Hannah was beginning to take over Miley and at the end, Miley was more sure of who she was, and willing to share her secret with the people she trusted, but still wanted Hannah to be protected. Significantly, so did her community. I think for this audience, that was the right message.

  • Emily

    Miley’s last name is spelled Stewart not Stuart.

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks, Emily! I will make the correction.


    im a boy my name is tylor i lake you

  • Lydia

    I love you Miley

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks, Lydia! Miley loves her fans.

  • believer

    Another factual error, “Miley is not yet an actress.” She can take direction too. There are images of Miley, out there, of her crying. All she has to do is go to that place in her head where the haters are, that say terribly cruel things like she is not a good role model or she is not a good Christian or that she can’t act. No doubt she has many less-painful experiences she can call on, too.
    Disney keeps her out of those dark places. The emotional recovery time for an actor to get back from there might also impinge on the breakneck-speed shooting schedule of Miley movies.
    And spot-on, Miley loves her fans.

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks believer. But “Miley is not yet an actress” is my opinion, so it is not a factual error. She is a talented performer and I consider myself a fan, but being an actress means more than just being able to cry on cue. I agree that her schedule makes it difficult for her to have the training and experience necessary for her to develop as an actress. And I thank you for your excellent comment.

  • believer

    With all due respect, Nell, Miley Cyrus could already play a better Nell, than did Jodie Foster.

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks, believer. All due respect to your opinion as well. I’m very glad you were touched by her performance. (But “Nell” was far from Foster’s best work, as I am sure you know. Cute reference to my name, though.)

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