Watching Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert 3-D, and looking into the faces of thousands of screaming pre-teens, I feel a strange kinship with the citizenry of sacked civilizations throughout time and the world. Seeing something at once so foreign to your being and day-to-day existence, and so full of force, vigor and furious noise — oh, the noise! — is partly how I imagine the Romans felt in 410, when the Visigoths came a-knockin’.
I don’t necessarily want to give the impression that Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds, a nice, three-dimensional concert film stunt spun off from a road tour from the hit Disney Channel series that stars the daughter of former mulleted, “Achy Breaky Heart” country crooner Billy Ray Cyrus, is bad, per se. Or that it will rape, pillage and plunder. It’s actually quite impressive. It’s just that it’s also such a fiercely indefatigable, in-your-face thing that it kind of takes one’s breath away.
Well staged by director Bruce Hendricks, the briskly paced concert features Cyrus belting out a bunch of tunes, and frequently waving her arm in triumphant declaration. I’m not super-familiar with her as a performer, but Cyrus certainly knows how to pull all the strings of an audience. She throws in plenty of friendly winks and waves to all the kids, works both sides of the stage, and, from the outset, says “I just have one rule — no sitting down!” Cue approving tween shrieks.
Performing for the first time ever as her pop star alter ego, Hannah Montana, Cyrus kicks off the show in high-energy fashion with “Rock Star,” and the production continues to pulls out all the stops, with solid sets, production design and dancing choreographed by Kenny Ortega, of the High School Musical franchise. There’s lots of colorful, cute, accessorized outfits that are a bit glammed-up (like this one), but not too slutty, a la Britney Spears’ cringe-inducing cock-tease years. Segueing into her own persona, Cyrus lets loose with “Start All Over,” the Jonas brothers also come out for a few tunes — “We Got the Party With Us” and “Year 3,000.” Little anecdotal behind-the-scenes bits and crowd interviews from the road tour are also interspersed throughout.
A to-scale smash at the box office this February, where it opened to over $30 million and went on to gross $65 million domestically, this is sunny, feel-good family entertainment… basically a Twinkie. But adults often forget that most tweens and teenagers have the metabolism to handle such artificially processed sugary delights, and in massive quantities too. Ergo, no harm, no foul — for its base constituency, at least. Others may be rightfully a bit bewildered.
The DVD benefits from superlative packaging and message control, too. Spread out on two discs — one of which contains the movie in regular form, and the other of which features the concert in 3-D, which can be enjoyed with the four pairs of 3-D glasses that accompany the release — the DVD is housed in a regular Amray case with a snap-in tray, and it comes with sturdy cardboard, holographic slipcover that, well, underscores the title, showing Cyrus in both brunette and blonde, in-character form.
A solid slate of bonus features includes a sing-along mode, additional songs not seen in the theatrical cut of the concert film (“Good and Broken,” “SOS”), and an 11-minute personal backstage tour from the very personable Cyrus that gives viewers a look at her costume-change area and the trap door she uses to pop up on the stage. I place the over/under on the number of times Cyrus playfully sticks out her tongue somewhere in the mid-40s, but she still seems a pretty grounded, friendly, reasonably normal young woman in her interview tidbits. The best chats come from supporting players and audience members. “It’s like standing behind a jet engine when it revs up, actually worse” says a sound tech of when Cyrus first appears on stage. Then there’s a weary, bewigged father, standing between his two beaming girls, decked out in Hannah Montana merchandise: “You know, I didn’t expect so much screaming.” You’re telling me! To purchase the DVD via Amazon, click here. B (Movie) B+ (Disc)