Correction to This Article
- A synopsis in the Feb. 1 Weekend section gave an incorrect length for the movie "Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert." It is 74 minutes.

'Hannah Montana' In 3-D, Keeping It One-Dimensional

What makes tween icon Miley Cyrus tick? Don't look for any such insights in the
What makes tween icon Miley Cyrus tick? Don't look for any such insights in the "Best of Both Worlds" film. (Disney)
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By Adam Bernstein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 2, 2008

Clearly, we were expecting too much.

Fifteen lousy bucks for "Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert 3-D" and you still learn nothing about sucrose-charged sprite Cyrus and her rock-star alter ego.

You get no sense of her life as the daughter of country entertainer Billy Ray Cyrus ("Achy Breaky Heart"), how she got her role on the Disney Channel series on which this concert was based, how she handles the rigors of a Disney life, how she rehearses or improves on the songs of committee-level competence that make this short movie seem endless, endless, endless.

Oh, but wait. It's in 3-D, a gimmick truly on the cutting edge in . . . 1953. (I was waiting for Vincent Price to duet with Miley Cyrus. No luck.)

The technology gives you the joy, if you are 12 and not a critic, of being totally assaulted with an overcompensating sound system and the sensation of being amid a sea of prepubescent hands and their squealing owners. One stagehand rightly likens it to standing near a jet at takeoff.

You get Cyrus's long blond mane whisking your face, and her tongue sticking out many times, as if to emphasize that she just took you for $15. Little brat. And her drummer sure likes to twirl his sticks. They nearly poke you in the eye at times.

After 10 minutes, you start wishing that would happen.

No serious viewer was expecting the filmmaking talent here -- director Bruce Hendricks and choreographer Kenny Ortega -- to make "The Sorrow and the Pity." But the sorrow and the pity is that they have taken this concert film too literally. It is strictly a pastiche of the recent 69-city tour featuring Cyrus.

Complaints arose that concert tickets were too pricey (though movie tickets are $15, even for kids, and even for the matinee we attended) and hard to get, and so Disney made this limited-run movie to reach fans robbed of Cyrus's promising vocal ability, completely affected stage persona and defiantly inarticulate speaking style.

"Hey, you guys," she greets the stadium-size crowds who wave light sticks. Sometimes, she goes super-duper plural: "Hey, you guyses."

Great, or even decent, or even mock concert films -- from Martin Scorsese's "The Last Waltz" to Rob Reiner's "This Is Spinal Tap" -- capture the fun of the music as well as insight into the people and artistic creativity behind it.

Hendricks misses almost entirely. He could have made more of the balding, paunchy yet spry Ortega teaching Cyrus a James Brown dance move with the microphone stand. And what about those pumped-up dads, seen in the movie, who'll do anything to get Cyrus tickets, including racing in high heels?

The film makes little of such moments, preferring the bland sheen of the concert and its songs about being true to yourself, life being what you make it, having fun at a party, etc.

Among the backup band, the level of musicianship is pretty high, if over-practiced. The "special guest" Jonas Brothers boy band also shows up, and one of its members proves precociously smarmy when he introduces a song for the young audience by saying, "This is for all the ladies in the house." Later, he says, "Where my ladies at?"

The best of both worlds? The appeal is not universal.

Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert 3-D (74 minutes, at area theaters) is rated G and contains nothing objectionable.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company