It's almost foolish to review Hannah Montana: The Movie as anything other than the latest cog in a cultural phenomenon/mass-marketing juggernaut. The film itself certainly doesn't aspire to anything more. A brightly colored yet cheap-looking affair (director Peter Chelsom doesn't even try to push beyond the material's TV roots), the movie brings Hannah's schizo life (ordinary teen, Miley, by day/internationally famous pop star, Hannah, by night) to a head, as she's forced to choose between country-girl authenticity and the glam life of a celebrity. The crisis is sparked by a lean-bodied young cowboy who oozes common sense and blond-god sex appeal in equal measure — the former illustrated by his preference for Miley over Hannah. Fleshed out with insipid songs (and one decent tune), a cookie-cutter tabloid villain, lots of salt-of-the-earth country folk, and a catfight featuring a game Tyra Banks, what's most interesting about the flick (and the Miley phenom, period) is its refurbishing of a tried-and-true conflation — all-American wholesomeness and flagrant consumerism — disturbingly pushed on a whole new generation of kids. The youngsters at the screening I attended fell silent during the film's many lulls, but were roused to cheers by its big musical finale, pumping them up to plead for the latest Hannah merchandise.
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