Thankfully, there’s a cute distraction, namely a farmhand named Travis (Lucas Till) nearby to make the transition go down a little easier. Since he went to school with Miley back in the day, he remembers how she used to be—before she moved to California—and wonders how she could’ve changed so drastically. Now call me crazy, but it’s not easy to believe he didn’t know she was moonlighting as Hannah. I mean, we know he’s familiar with pop culture because he mentions Hannah. And he also knows she loves to sing and write songs, and we’re supposed to believe he has no idea? C’mon, that’s a little silly.

Now I know that suspending your disbelief is often required to experience Hollywood’s “movie magic,” but it’s a tough sell that everyone in her hometown, let alone Travis, who spends a lot of time with her, hasn’t figured out that Miley is Hannah. I mean, she looks exactly the same, save for that cheap blonde wig and false eyelashes. But I digress…

Predictably, Miley soon discovers that trading designer duds for flannel isn’t such a bad thing. In fact, she adapts rather well, considering her rough-and-tumble start. But while her change in attitude and priorities was definitely needed, the storyline takes an unnecessary, all-or-nothing turn that basically says that Miley has to choose between being a good daughter and friend in a small town at the peril of her life’s dreams in the big city. Surely, she can be a singer/actress with perspective, right?

And that’s where Hannah Montana:  The Movie ultimately falls short. Its heart is definitely in the right place, but the takeaway value is way over-simplified, as if the audience couldn’t make up its own mind about what’s right and wrong. Take Cyrus, for instance. Even though she’s clearly going to keep acting and living in L.A., are we supposed to automatically assume that her personal priorities are out of whack?

But given Cyrus’ charisma in the leading role and a slew of catchy songs along the way, the dumbed-down message probably won’t make that much of a difference to her adoring fanbase anyway—a shame, but probably true. Too bad it didn’t have to be that way, though.

  • Drugs/Alcohol:  None.
  • Language/Profanity:  A couple of exclamations of “Oh My G--!”
  • Sex/Nudity:  Miley and Travis share a brief kiss, and Robby Ray and Lorelai do the same.
  • Violence:  Only of a comedic nature.

Christa Banister is a full-time freelancer writer, specializing in music, movies and books-related reviews and interviews and is the author of two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers. Based in St. Paul, Minn., she also weighs in on various aspects of pop culture on her personal blog

For more information, including her upcoming book signings and sample chapters of her novels, check out her Website.