'Hannah Montana: The Movie'


Hannah Montana goes more than a little bit country for her first (nonconcert) big-screen outing, and the resulting Nashville/bubblegum fusion doesn't necessarily represent the best of both worlds.

Not that the tweens will mind the twang. "Hannah Montana: The Movie" is a can't-miss proposition for Disney, which smartly is striking while the iron is still reasonably hot.

It likely won't match last year's $31.1 million opening registered by Miley's all-singing "Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert," but Cyrus' enthusiastic fan base should ensure brisk spring break business.

The setup finds Miley Stewart (Cyrus) becoming a little too attached to her pop-star alter ego, much to the concern of her daddy (Billy Ray Cyrus), who orchestrates an intervention by taking a surprise trip back to her old Crowley Corners, Tenn., home.

Despite initial protests, Miley gets into the swing of things, swapping glitter for gingham and striking up a potential romance with an aw-shucks cowboy (Lucas Till).

But just when she's prepared to leave Hannah behind, along comes a greedy developer (Barry Bostwick) with plans to turn Main Street into a mall, and only one person comes to mind for a big benefit concert that will keep Crowley Corners' corners intact.

When you get right down to it, Miley's trek to Tennessee recalls the one taken by the Ricardos and the Mertzes when they met up with Cousin Ernie. Although that was more than a half-century ago, director Peter Chelsom ("Hear My Song," "Shall We Dance") and screenwriter Dan Berendsen ("Cheetah Girls: One World") pretty much serve up the same brand of cornpone.

That's still preferable to misguided attempts at marrying Hannah's contemporary pop/ hip-hop sound with the Grand Ole Opry, as with the squirm-inducing "Hoedown Throwdown" (don't ask), or extended scenes of deep introspection that bring things down to a snail's crawl.

Still, there are sufficient pratfalls and Miley/Hannah quick-changes to satisfy fans, and Cyrus retains that natural, unforced likability that made her a star in the first place.

In addition to series regulars Cyrus the elder, Emily Osment, Mitchel Musso and Jason Earles, there's Vanessa Williams as Hannah's overzealous publicist (doing a variation on her "Ugly Betty" character), British actor Peter Gunn as a relentless tabloid reporter and solid-as-usual Margo Martindale as Miley's salt-of-the-earth Grandma Ruby.

Rounding out the obligatory Cyrus songs, including the tender Glen Ballard/Alan Silvestri ballad "Butterfly Fly Away," a duet with her dad, are "live" performances by Rascal Flatts and teen country-crossover sensation Taylor Swift, who — see ya, Hannah — apparently is the person Miley Cyrus really wants to be when she grows up. (partialdiff)