Hmm…I guess so.
So my friend David Finnigan and I, joined by local neighbourhood couple Tom and Skye, watched a movie called Hannah Montana tonight and decided to blog our responses – my version on my blog and Finig’s version on his blog (which is REALLY funny and it’s worth reading both), [update: Tom was so inspired by this night of important writing that he wrote a little tribute of his own] and in our heads we had the inner question mulling about as follows:
Is it worth it? Miley giving up whatever she gave up, to make this, whatever it is?
Let’s see what sort of answer we get below…starting NOW!
So. There are a few themes to this movie, which I can sum up as: Farming hijinx! Running around a lot! And WIGS WIGS WIGS!
I’m not sure yet if they’re “worth it” but let’s get to the end of this race before we decide.
Speaking of wigs: it starts with Billy Ray sitting in the backstage room of a concert, by himself. Billy is looking at wigs, all disappointed. We know this cos he sighs and quietly clucks and he doesn’t even have a hat on.
Cameras outside show us 5 billion screaming kiddie extras – and there are a BUNCH of extras in this film because Disney is NOT cheap – and they are so excited for the Hannah Montana concert, and the camera pans over a whole bunch of tweeny girls trying to get inside, and then suddenly the camera JOLTS RIGHT ON BACK, because HEYO, was that Miley’s face in the crowd? Oh yes it was! For some reason Miley lacks the professional nous to ensure that she gets to her concert in time to change into the elaborate disguise that helps her have 2 identities at once – global popstar, and Californian school girl. Guess what this elaborate guise is? Oh yeah a raggedy-arse blonde wig. Impenetrable.
Concert ticket lady is all friendly to the girls before Miley and her best friend Lesley (my friend Skye suggested that is the friend’s name, as per the lyrics of one of Miley’s excellent songs) but the woman turns on these girls all “Ha! You say you’re on the guest list? I disbelieve you SO intently that I won’t even glance cursorily down at the guest list in front of me, and FUCK YOU GIRLS OUTTA MY WAY” and I hope she gets fired later.
There is already SO much screaming.
And then there’s a heinous scene on a golf buggy where Miley gets backstage and THERE SHE IS, READY TO ROLL. And it says Hannah Montana on the dressing room door and then that word EXPLODES into bright blue neon fragments and we know this shit gonna be WHACK.
We can also see that Billy Ray is FED UP to the brim with his daughter’s flightiness and ego and she’s really lost her way – she’s even wearing a guitar picks dress – and as a graduate of a degree in playwriting, I can recognise that this is some pretty spesh foreshadowing by the writer we’ve discovered is called Dan Berendson, and this is only the FIRST of many more congratulations for Dan down the line.
So Miley bursts out onto stage and THEY LOVE HER, and then suddenly we see Miley’s latest film clip on a Hawaiian beach, and this shit flits between locations like it aint no thing, and we also see the same cute character “doowhatsy” that is going to plague us throughout the film, which is that Miley likes to bang her head on poles and on balls, and hah-hah-hah these jokes write themselves.
(Her brother, Nameless’s, doowhatsy is that he is somewhere on the Spectrum and he just KEEPS getting into fights with animals of prey, and pretending he goes to College).
We meet a dodgy motherfucker called Oswald trying to sneak rapily into Miley’s dressing room, and the “assassin of America’s most loved” name reference is not lost on any of us, and we also meet Miley’s publicist Vanessa Williams, who always always wears a headband, and Vanessa introduces Oswald all pursed-lip-bitchy as “Chief Sleaze at Bon Chic Magazine” which is the sort of job title most of us only dream of. His job is to spy on Miley and try find dirt on her, and BOY does he have an adventure ahead of him! Some might say that in Disneytopia, when you try to find dirt on Good Christian People, you only get dirt on yourself! You fall into mud pits and out of trees and get sexed by farm animals and shit! Oh this is going to be good!
We also meet Bon Chic’s ACTUAL Chief Sleaze Times Two Full Stop Infinity No Returns, but only through little vignettes of her high-powered CEO beauty regime, in like manicure sessions and massages and shit – and I feel there’s not enough exposition for the full wringing out she gets later, but let’s face it, the bit players in this movie could have been rags on a stick, and it still would have soared into the stratosphere like the veritable Miley-powered bird of prey that it is.
But as much as we know Miley is the lovable, relatable yet also well-toned trifecta of ideal Disney hero, she has some things to learn about GETTING YO SHIT TOGETHER, and not having such a big fat ego, and we see a few hiccups along the road, like totally ruining her BFFE’s birthday party, and having a fight over some soooo-2005 pump heels with Tyra Banks, and even fucking up some stupid cake that a little kid we only see once in the whole film baked for Lesley. BUMMER, Miley! You gotta learn RESPECT! If only you could be FORCED TO!
I have to say at this point my emotional engagement is pretty low. I am feeling this in my head, while at this stage of Camp Rock, we were already smack bang in the heart and spine region. But if anyone can pull me out of this, it’s Miley. So we keep trucking on.
And suddenly Miley’s on a private jet to “go to some gig in New York” except her Dad has already dropped SO many HINTS about how she needs to grow up, and how it’s Granmaw’s birthday and rah rah rah – which, OK Billy Ray, she might be a lil bitch, but SHE IS LIKE 14 YEARS OLD, aren’t all 14 year olds little bitches? Cut her some SLACK! And bring in the love interest already! And make him spunky for fucking once!
They get off the plane and Miley’s so sure she’s in New York but OH NO she is in Bumfuck Nowhere, and her big brother who was complaining 5 minutes ago about “I’m late to College” is there with her too, pretty much getting to third base with a Great Dane in the front seat of a pickup truck, and Miley is PISSED about everything.
Dad and Nameless Brother leave her by the side of the road with her ugly pink luggage to ride her horse Bluejeans home (YEP MOVING ON) and of course Miley doesn’t remember how to ride a horse – FOR SHAME – and Bluejeans is all “BITCH you is NOT gonna be learning on ME” and gallops off, and suddenly some Disney-version of a tween hottie (maybe I’m too old for this shit, but this boy is a DISAPPOINTMENT) rears out of nowhere and subdues the horse for Miley and they ride back to Grandmaw’s together.
Miley rides on the back of the horse with Hottie – who is named TRAVIS for future reference, and is cracking double-denim like he has no shame – with her arms clenched against her breasts, because Disney would explode in little tufts of lemon-flavoured smoke if we accidentally saw any jiggle action. Shit gets a bit close and flirty before boyo pisses on her face metaphorically, going “I used to have a crush on you…but not anymore” and poor Miley has to extinguish all her sexy 3am plans for frottage in the chicken shed and go check into Grandma’s house.
It’s fucking World War Hick in Nan’s house. Rascal Flatts is in her living room, there’s a hoe-down going on, Weird Cousin Derek is there with his pet ferret, and amongst all this, Nan gets given the final celebrity crooner commemorative plate for her wall of plates, and then Billy Ray gets all clumsy in front of a hot age-appropriate love interest, played by Jan from The Office, and he breaks ALL of Nan’s plates. What a MESS. Nan was hoping that, having filled the gap of the final plate on her display shelf, she could finally die this year, but I guess it wasn’t to be.
We can see that adjusting to country life is hard for Miley. She has a photo of her dead Mum who is also Brooke Shields, and a morbidly obese rabbit, and the photo comes to live and they all blink, and what the fuck? And then Nan passive-aggressively tells Miley to bone up again –poor bitch can’t catch a break right now – and whatever, I don’t really care. I’m still in the brain, and not heart, region right now.
It’s morning and all I can think of is “CRAZY DISNEY FISH OUT OF WATER MONTAGE” and yeah it happens and yeah it’s gross and let’s just say that if I wanted to see what a squashed-up half-cooked egg looks like, I’d just torch an IVF clinic rather than make Miley go through such indignity here. But, bygones.
And – I’m betting Nan is regretting asking the family to stay. A week’s worth of eggs crushed. Dumb Nameless brother getting his head stuck in her prize-winning squash. A whole Innovations catalogue worth of commemorative crooner plates smashed to pieces. AND THEN the completely uninteresting conflict that underpins the whole film, of “HRMMMMPH, developers tryna build a mega mall in MYYY backyard? Not in my Tennessewrptyyu!” oh sorry I fell asleep while typing that cos it is so boring and overdone a plot device.
So between EVIL DEVELOPERS and OSWALD TRYING TO GET A DIRTY MEDIA SCOOP ON MILEY, shit be tough. Lucky she’s building a friendship with Inoffensive Travis who says something so Disney to her that my whole living room voms into our snuggies, “Life’s a climb – but the view is great” – BLUUUUURGH.
Nameless Brother in the meantime has been ass-savaged by a crocodile and stole an egg from an Ostrich, all while declaring “I’m in College!”
No you’re not.
There’s some community fundraising night to raise money to STOP THE DEVELOPERS, because maybe getting a lump sum of cashola to burn in a big petrol fire while chanting Sarah McLachlan lyrics will stop the developers from building the evil mall? Or something? Because it’s not like these developers don’t eat, sleep and shit MONEY, and could buy this town 3 times over?
But who cares about these logistics. We are here to ENJOY the SHOW and WHAT A SHOW! I actually gasp with joy when Taylor Swift has her cameo, and Miley dances with Travis and he builds up her confidence to suggest a song, and she’s all like “I’m gonna add a bit of HIP HOP to the mix!”
AND SHIT GETS REAL! It is the hoe-down throw-down and OH MY GOD it is incredible. The whole room rolls effortlessly into this thing and it’s like magic is happening in front of our eyes, and every time I try to look away it’s like my soul yells “GIMME MORE” and I am now FULLY in the heart region, brain left behind. If all of their budget went into this scene, it was worth it. 500 out of 10.
And then it’s over, interrupted by the Bad Man Developer who pronounces the word “community” like he’s really saying “fuck you” and I hate him more than I hate Clive Palmer, or maybe equally, OK actually a bit less, but you know what Travis realises will get Bumfuck Town out of this mess?
An amazing charity concert featuring HANNAH MONTANA!
So it is organised. Jan from The Office makes it happen, and Lesley BFF plays ‘fake’ Hannah, and blah blah don’t care. The only bit that gets me is when Miley, in “Hannah” guise decides to suss out what Travis thinks of Miley, and Travis is like “I think about her all the time”. And the way he says the word “all”, it even smells of sex, so I hope this works out okay for him in the end.
Meanwhile we see Nan’s squashes up close, and shit, these things ARE prize-winning.
A bunch of stuff goes down in a really fast stomach-achy sort of way, where Miley is torn between a date with Travis (in her Miley identity,) and a posh lobster lunch with the Mayor of Bumfuck (in her Hannah Montana identity). And bitch is running between the two SO unsuccessfully, and she’s basically being horribly rude to EVERYONE involved, and the only acceptable excuse for any of this is “chronic diarrhoea” and yet she doesn’t pull it.
She finally fucks up the special lunch royally when the Mayor brings out a dish called ‘Tennessee Flambe’ – which used to be a lynching procedure, but now is some sort of firey dessert – and she sets the room on fire, and everyone freaks out, and she tears off her wig, and pretty much everyone she’s trying to dupe sees her for who she really is, except one little dopey kid with a picture book hanging out unsupervised on the steps of Town Hall, who’s just lightly disappointed by it all.
This reveal causes a rift between Billy Ray and Jan from The Office. It makes Travis REALLY mad at Miley even though, whatever. And everyone is PROPER BUMMED and I don’t mean in a “reframing sexual paradigms around the Disney Purity Ring” kinda way.
Miley and Billy Ray are suddenly hanging out in a pagoda watching the misty mountains of Tennessee, and his eyes are equally misty, cos his daughter is singing him a BEAUTIFUL song about how many sacrifices he made as a single father, and it is another TOUCHDOWN moment.
And all this suddenly reminds me of the amazing “Come Back to Twitter or I Will EAT MY CAT” controversy of 2009, which you can read about here.
SO we’re nearly at the end of this. It’s Hannah Montana concert time, and we can see Miley’s heart ain’t in it, even though the concert is PACKED with people, and she has a whole squad of poorly-dressed backup dancers. She stops the show, all “I CANNA DO THIS” and then goes into a long boring Disney apology riff, ending with “I’ve hurt a lot of people…but I didn’t mean to.”
I mean…is that good enough? “I didn’t mean to”. I killed your cat but I didn’t mean to. YOU STILL KILLED MY CAT. Like…what about tangible steps towards better decision making in the future? How about learning from your buddy Taylor? How about – actually you know what? If the town is ok with it, I am ok with it.
And then Miley sings The Climb and all is forgiven. As my housemate Skye swooned, “bitch knows how to sing”. And here’s where the patended Disney Spinal Rush of Instinctive, and Not Intellectual Joy comes in. Passing the brain and going right to the spinal cord. I feel it.f We all get leg goosebumps, even under the snuggies. You’ve done it again Disney. This is almost as good as Camp Rock. Fuck you.
And then everything sorts itself out. The town of Bumfuck decides to keep Miley’s secret from the rest of the world, because the little girl from the town hall steps suggests it really cutely. Oswald stops stalking Miley cos his little private school daughters show up all “OH BUT DADDY – DON’T” and Miley’s Dad and Jan from The Office have a pash, and the town makes the money they need to for their anti-development tantric love-in next weekend, and Miley chastely kisses Travis, and they are SO HAPPY, but just wait til she needs to start bringing him to industry events in Hollywood next month, and record executives are like “what’s your groove?” and he’s like “you need to climb a mountain to see the view” and “Oh, Bluejeans gets spooked by strangers”.
All I’m saying is, a bird and fish can get married, but where will they build their nest? In separate houses because I give these guys 2 weeks.
BUT IT’S DONE! A final happy song, some groovy costume changes, my new favourite line of “You know that crush I had on you? SO not over it” and YAY!
So was it worth it?
Look, sure. But ONLY because of the magical music numbers and NOT because of the conservatism, the wastage of groceries and chinaware, the annoying slapstick, or Creepy Cousin Derek.
Some of you might say, “but Jess! Think of all the things this movie cost Miley! A quiet teenagehood without paparazzi in her face! The ability to grow up and THEN choose your career! A healthy relationship with body image and food! Her innocence, Jess, her innocence!”
To which I say – innocence is fleeting.
But a hoe-down? Forever.