So now that the High School Musical crew have graduated, young Miley Cyrus steps up to the plate as Disney’s latest tween heavy hitter.
Sell-out concert tours, platinum albums, a hit TV show and a controversial photo-spread in Vanity Fair not being enough for her, Miley is now starring in the much-hyped ‘in cinemas only’ movie of her TV show. So is she worthy of all the hype? Can she actually sing and act? Or is she another of those shockingly interchangeable clean-cut stars (those semi-nude photos notwithstanding) which the Disney Channel seem to churn out in abundance?
Well, the answer on the evidence of this movie is Yes…. And No. How’s that for decisive? I have to admit, both my sons love watching the TV show, which has been a mega hit. But frankly that’s not all that surprising. The premise – ‘ordinary high-school teen leads a secret double life as a pop star’ – hits all the right notes, prepubescent wish-fulfillment wise. Plus Miley and the rest of the cast – which includes her dad country music singer Billy Ray Cyrus (anyone remember Achy Breaky Heart?), Haley Joel Osment’s sister Emily, and Dolly Parton doing occasional brassy cameos as Miley’s god-aunt – deliver the sit-com humour with gusto. But there’s nothing all that special about it (Dolly aside) as far as I could see, so I was prepared to be thoroughly underwhelmed by this movie.
And, to my astonishment, I wasn’t. Instead I was thoroughly entertained.
And that’s despite the fact that Miley’s acting is very much of the ‘gee kids let’s put a show on in the barn’ variety. (But hey, if it worked for Mickey Rooney, why shouldn’t it work for Miley?) And the plot is thoroughly predictable, packing in all the usual staples of dual-identity movies. Such as the frantic climax where the star has to be in two places at once as two different people and the silly Superman-style conceit that dictates that no-one can tell Miley is Hannah even though she looks exactly like her, bar a blonde wig.