The reason I’m smiling as I write this post is because I’ve recently become a big Miley Cyrus fan, and that amuses me immensely.
Who would have thought that this would happen to me! I’m not the target pre-teen/teen audience, and I don’t actually have anyone in my life that is.
So how did this happen?
Well, back in 2007 I happened to be reading about this young singer-songwriter from Tennessee who donned a blonde wig and became a superstar, and it was while I was googling Dolly Parton that I discovered Hannah Montana – the hugely popular Disney show starring Miley Cyrus.
As all Hannah Montana fans know, Dolly Parton is Miley’s godmother both on and off screen, and the country superstar has made a few guest appearances in the show. For a Dolly fan like me this was an exciting discovery and I couldn’t wait to check out the episode Good Golly Miss Dolly in which she stars.
I was somewhat disappointed though. It was great to see Dolly as always, but Hannah Montana with its dual identity plot device, its childish, slapstick humour, and its over the top performances, did not tickle my fancy and the little music I heard seemed bland and forgettable. I wrote it off as kiddie stuff and when this movie spin-off came out last year, and I heard that Dolly wasn’t involved, I didn’t rush out to see it.
So what a pleasant surprise it was when I finally gave this movie my attention.
The plot is simple. Miley has let her alter ego Hannah dominate her life a bit too much in California, so her dad (Billy Ray Cyrus) tricks her into spending a couple of weeks visiting her gran back in her Tennessee hometown.
It turns out that this town is threatened by a greedy developer, and the locals set out to save the place by holding a fundraising barn party. During the event, Miley’s growing friendship with local boy Travis (Lucas Till) moves onto another level as the pair slow dance to Taylor Swift‘s Crazier (nice cameo, check out this this full version), and Miley reminds us that she’s the daughter of linedancing king Billy Ray Cyrus with her own foot-tapping number Hoedown Throwdown.
However, it turns out that the fundraiser hasn’t raised enough and greedy developer man arrives to gloat. All seems lost until Travis offers a suggestion – why doesn’t Miley ask her California friend superstar Hanah Montana to perform. That’ll raise a ‘tonne of money’.
At this point, you can’t help but think – hey, you’ve just had Taylor Swift in your barn performing. She sells out stadiums. Or, hey Miley why don’t you give your Tennessee-based godmother a call and bring in a few bucks that way. Last year, a fan paid $75K to have their breakfast cooked by Dolly Parton at a Tennessee fundraising event. Surely that makes more sense?
But, I guess that would be too simple, and there has to be some wig-swapping drama or this wouldn’t be a Hannah Montana story, so, well you get the picture don’t you…
I really was pleasantly surprised by how entertaining this movie is. The childish slapstick humour is there, as expected, but there appears to be an additional adult level that doesn’t exist so much in the TV show. For example, there are plenty of country music history references that must surely be aimed at the target market’s parents and aunts and uncles and grandparents – surely references to Tammy Wynette and Grand Ole Opry legend Minnie Pearl are lost on the average Hannah Montana fan, no?
Also, while in the studio-set TV show environment, Miley Cyrus comes across as OTT and a little annoying, things are very different on the big screen. Presented within this film’s cinematic context she has an amazing and very attractive screen presence. In fact, she steals almost every scene she’s in, although she does does have competition from Vanessa L Williams as her publicist and Tyra Banks in a great cameo. I feel really sorry for Emily Osment (Haley Joel‘s younger sis) who plays her friend Lilly – she just doesn’t get a look in.
But, anyway, the thing that makes this film a joy for me is the music. You see, I’m a country music fan. I regularly listen to country music radio online and all of the songs in this movie are wonderfully familiar, even the Miley/Hannah ones. Suddenly I’ve realised that Miley Cyrus is a really good singer. A lot of her songs are punchy, catchy, and full of emotion – why did I think they were bland? They’re not at all.
OK, well, maybe one or two are. At this point I suppose I should mention this film’s biggest song The Climb (perhaps better known now as X Factor winner Joe McElderry‘s failed attempt at a Christmas Number One). I’m not too keen on this one
Breakout album and loving it. And, the kid’s still only 17, so when it comes to her singing career, things can only get better.
From an acting point of view, this week Miley Cyrus announced that she’s leaving the Hannah Montana ‘security blanket behind‘.
The Last Song opens today at UK cinemas.