Making the Grades
Because of the gender, age and interests of my children, I’ve missed out on the Hannah Montana phenomenon. So I wasn’t quite sure what to expect walking into a theater full of Hannah fans that squealed with delight when the perky pop princess appeared on the screen.
I was also leery of yet another half hour sitcom forcibly stretched into a full-length film. Yet considering how difficult it is to find tween-appropriate films that are both entertaining and devoid of adult-oriented material, this production was a pleasant surprise.
Miley Stewart (Miley Cyrus) is riding the wave of success as the singing sensation Hannah Montana. But only a few people know about her alter ego. One of them is her best friend Lilly Truscott (Emily Osment) who is about to celebrate her 16th birthday. And Miley has promised to be there, as herself, not Hannah.
However, when Miley gets a chance to put on the blond wig and fill in at an award’s show for Beyonce, her celebrity status goes straight to the young performer’s head and she finds herself in a catfight with model Tyra Banks over a pair of shoes. After photos of the incident appear in all the papers, Miley’s dad Robby Ray (Billy Ray Cyrus) decides it is time for his daughter get re-grounded. Hijacking her private jet, he shuffles Miley off to her hometown of Crowley Corners, Tenn. just in time for her grandma’s (Margo Martindale) birthday party at the family ranch.
Throwing a fit over her missed opportunity in the Big Apple, Miley frustrates everyone with her diva antics. But at least a few people aren’t buying in to the tantrums. Grandma Ruby is quick to put her foot down with her overindulged offspring, as is Travis Brody (Lucas Till), a handsome young man who works at the homestead.
Taking time to disconnect from the glimmer and glitz of Hollywood and reconnect with the rural values and work ethics of her Tennessee relatives proves to be good for the teen. Then a land developer (Barry Bostwick) threatens to undermine the community by building a large commercial project in the quiet countryside. With only limited time, the townsfolk must come up with a huge amount of money for back taxes to stop the venture.
As the town’s fundraising efforts begin to stall, someone suggests asking Hannah Montana to perform at a benefit concert. Wanting to keep her alter identity secret but eager to help the people of Crowley Corner, Miley finds herself caught up in an expanding web of deceit that is hurting all kinds of honest folk.
Miley’s dilemma may also cause some discomfort for young viewers who appreciate the singer’s desire to keep her two personas separate. Fortunately for Miley, the film provides encouragement and guidance from caring and creditable adults as well as some very good friends. It also portrays the strength of a small town that pulls together when times are tough.
Though I left the screening with the music from "HoeDown ThrowDown" thoroughly entrenched in my brain for the rest of the evening, Hannah Montana: The Movie is still a positive script with some better-than-expected performances and admirable life lessons.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Hannah Montana - The Movie.
What influence does Miley’s grandmother have on her? What role can extended family play in raising and encouraging children?
What does Miley learn about honesty in relationships? How does other people’s willingness to forgive impact this young singer?
What are some of the challenges of fame? If you were famous, would you want to keep it secret from your friends and classmates or would you want them to know?