Miley Cyrus, aka Miley Stewart, aka Hannah Montana races through a life penned by Charlie Kaufman and packaged by Disney. Under the pseudonym Hannah Montana, fake Miley has become the world’s biggest pop star, and through the sheer force of Disney marketing magic, so too has the actual Miley Cyrus, who now mirrors back her second and third identities by selling out stadiums as both herself and as the character the character she plays on TV pretends to be. If that wasn’t confusing enough, the actor playing her father on the television show is her real-life dad Billy Ray Cyrus, aka Robby Ray Stewart, method-acting as a ’90s country star who sidelined his singing career for Miley’s well-being. Robby Ray is accepting of—but not cheerleading—his daughter’s super stardom, a humility betrayed by his trendy razored haircut. Billy Ray, if you got him drunk, might admit that his fortune is attached to his underage daughter. Her hits eclipse his; their duets outsell his solos. What on earth must the two of them—or five of them—talk about at breakfast? (And the rest of their family here written off as inessential or dead.)
If you are 12 and have any intention of seeing this movie, stop reading now.
The climax of this film (shot and written by Peter Chelsom and Daniel Berendsen—their work so perfunctory it hasn’t merited mention) is that after years of sellout stadiums and No. 1 hits, after three seasons of the Hannah Montana show, Miley cracks under pressure. Standing on stage at her hometown’s wee theme park, Hannah Montana puts down the mic, takes off her wig, and confesses, “I can’t do this—not here.” In my favorite moment in the movie, said mic—a spangled, rhinestoned wonder—is immediately taken away by an unsmiling roadie and replaced by—gasp—the plain black mic stand of mortals. Miley apologizes for being human. She plays a farewell song. The crowd likes it well enough. And then they cheer . . . for Hannah. Does the newly liberated Miley put the wig on? Does she get her princess mic back? Does this movie, this life, have a truly happy ending? (Amy Nicholson)