REVIEWS: 2009 Movie Review Retrospective

This is a retrospective of the movies I saw in theaters this year.  I’ve arranged the movies in the order in which I would recommend them.  You might notice that the listing doesn’t match up exactly with the ratings I gave them originally, but that’s the point in a retrospective.

  1. Avatar
    Yes, I’m going to do it.  I’m going to put the last movie I saw at the top of the list.  But this movie changes so much about movies in general, that I can’t help but put it at the top.
  2. Star Trek
    JJ did the impossible and made a great Star Trek movie that manages to both reboot and continues the series in a worthy manner.
  3. District 9
    Surprisingly good, partly because the ad campaign gave nothing away and partly because it was heartwarming and action filled.
  4. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
    I think this movie can finally stand alone as a good movie, not just a good Harry Potter movie.
  5. Up
    It’s Pixar.  It’s funny, heartwarming, doesn’t talk down to you or your kids, and looks amazing.
  6. Drag Me To Hell
    A good balance of funny and scary, with a satisfying ending.
  7. Zombieland
    While Zombieland wasn’t exactly what I wanted, it was still tons of fun.
  8. 2012
    The world is literally falling apart and they want us to care about individual people?
  9. The Twilight Saga: New Moon
    My least favorite book of the series turns into a dull movie.
  10. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
    A movie built on the cliché that bigger is better, which it definitely isn’t in this case.
  11. Terminator Salvation
    Skynet reveals their big plan and its a Terminator with free will?  All I know is that it could have been worse.  A lot worse.  It’s still pretty bad.
  12. The Hangover
    Funny, but highly inappropriate.  Can’t really recommend it.
  13. The Men Who Stare At Goats
    Advertised as a slap-stick comedy, its more of a dark comedy, and not very comedic at that.
  14. Watchmen
    So long, so boring, so weird.
  15. Hannah Montana: The Movie
    Yet another “movie” version of a TV show that manages to not be a game changer, even when that’s supposed to be the moral of the story!
  16. Year One
    Probably the worst movie I’ve ever seen.  Unfunny comedy, cringe-worth dialog, every scene dragged on and on.  First movie we literally talked out loud about walking out of.

REVIEW: Hannah Montana: The Movie (2009)

Why couldn't she have chosen "neither"?
Why couldn't she have chosen "neither"?

Went to Holiday Drive-In last night with some free tickets.  This is the second movie we saw.  The first movie was much better.

The following review contains SPOILERS, not like you care.

Summary: Miley Stewart has it all, a normal teenage life and a rock star celebrity life.  Witness the hijinks as keeping her celebrity life a secret interferes with her personal life!

Thoughts: If you think this sounds familiar, that’s because its the plot to Miley and Billy Ray Cyrus’ show on The Disney Channel, “Hannah Montana”.  This is the movie version, so not much changes.  For those of you who don’t know, let me sum up what the deal is.

Miley Stewart is a normal teenaged girl who (thinks she) can sing really well.  Someone (her father, played by her father, I guess) comes up with the idea that she can live a normal life (go to high school, not be mobbed everywhere she goes), but having her create an alter-ego whose ONLY difference is that she wears a blonde wig.  Apparently the Hannah Wig’s power is only matched by Clark Kent’s Glasses in that no one can figure it out unless she tells them.  I mean, they’re never in the same room together even though they claim to be friends (unless her best friend has the wig on and they only see “Hannah” from the back), they have the same best friend (played by Haley Joel Osment’s little sister which is obvious), the same publicist follows them around (played by Vanessa Williams, poor soul), they both hang around Billy Ray Cyrus for some reason.  Odd that no one can figure this out.  You’d think the movie would be about someone finally figuring it out, but it still takes her taking off her wig and saying who she actually is for anyone to see it, though someone trying to figure it out is part of a really stupid subplot.

So in The Movie, Miley being Hannah ruins her friends birthday party and she misses something about her brother going to college.  This apparently pushes her dad over the edge and he kidnaps her and takes her back to their hometown in Tennessee.  Meanwhile, her best friend who was mad at her just happens to reveal to a British gossip journalist where “Hannah’s” hometown is, which is the same as Miley’s, obviously.

Miley is upset at being kidnapped and taken to Tennesse, but her dad says they’ve had enough “Hannah” and she needs to take two weeks off to find herself, then he might let her continue her dangerous double life.  They stay at Miley’s grandmother’s house (whose mother it is was unclear to me, since she bosses Billy Ray around like her son and tries to hook him up, but she has a room in her house with wallpaper picked out by Miley’s dead mother and a necklace belonging to her; guessing she’s a controlling mother-in-law?), where Miley meets one of her friends from childhood, a guy who of course has grown up to be screamingly adorable.  He almost immediately admits that he had a crush on her when they were young, but he’s over it now.  She just gives him googely eyes.  If you guessed that they’re going to start an awkward teenage relationship that supposedly drives the movie, you’ve guessed right!  Miley pretends to enjoy Tennessee, and ends up hanging around her boy crush a lot, but he doesn’t know she’s Hannah Montana either.

For some reason, half the town is being sold and the guy with enough money to buy it wants to tear it down and build a mall (you can just smell the symbolism!).  The town has a benefit concert, and even though they have Rascal Flatts, Taylor Swift, and Billy Ray Cyrus (it’s unclear if they play themselves though and if they are, why don’t they have screaming fans like whenever anyone mentions “Hannah Montana”?).  Miley’s crush calls her up on stage and she sings some well coregraphed dance song she just made up that the band immediately knows and the entire crowd can dance to after watching her do it twice.  The concert isn’t making them the money they need, and as the guy who wants to build the mall taunts an entire Tennessee town, Miley’s boy crush says that they’ll make the money if Miley’s friend Hannah Montana comes!  Oh no!  What will Miley do?  If you guessed that she’ll have her best friend come disguised as Hannah along with her publist who both immediately forgive her for ruining their lives, you’ve guessed right!

The (black!) mayor of this small Tennessee town is really excited to have Hannah Montana sing at the benefit, so he invites her to a lobster dinner downtown that night, but oh no! Miley’s boy crush asked her out on a date!  What will she do?  If you guessed that she’ll make up excuses to run and change, going back and forth down the street trying to make both parties happy, forgetting to change some parts of her disguise (even leaving on a lobster bib when she changed her clothes underneath it!), and eventually getting both parties upset at her, you’ve guessed right!

Her boy crush sees her dressed as Hannah without her Wig and finally sees through the disguise.  He’s upset that she lied to him and they break up!  That night, she tries to make it up to him by finishing painting a chicken coop he wanted to use to sell eggs (stupid sub-plot), but then she has to rush off to be Hannah for the benefit concert.  She sings some song, then sees that her boy crush showed up the concert because he saw the coop and apparetnly instantly forgave her.  This breaks Miley, as she says that she can’t do this anymore and takes off her Hannah Wig, revealing the obvious.  Everyone in the town and everyone from miles around now knows the truth (including the Britsh gossip journalist).  Miley apologizes for lying and living this double life that is ruining everyone’s life.  She sings a song she wrote based on a phrase her boy crush told her and everyone is sad. What happens next?  If you guessed that Miley has learned her lesson and resigns to either being a celebrity everywhere she goes or not being a celebrity at all and stop hurting her friends and family with her every action, you’ve guessed WRONG!

You see, one little girl (who had witnessed Miley trying to be at the dinner and with her date) asks her to put her Hannah Wig back on, that everyone present will keep her secret.  The crowd agrees, and starts chanting for her to do it.  But before she can, the British journalist snaps a picture on his cell phone!  But before he can push send, Hannah’s publisit reveals that she flew in his daughters, who are huge Hannah fans.  Faced with destroying his daughters’ idol right in front of them, he chooses instead to quit his job.  So that plot is wrapped up in a few seconds.  So how does the movie end?  If you guessed that she puts her Hannah Wig back on and sings another song to her cheering crowd, you’ve guessed absolutely right!  And then it ends.  The only closure you get on the mall plot was a guy filling in the illustration of how much money they made.  Why it took Hannah Montana revealing herself to be Miley, and then undo it make the residents of the town finally decide to donate money to save it?  How can you convince an entire town to keep your secret?  I’m sure there was other press besides the British guy if this is supposed to be one of the biggest stars in the world!  Questions, questions, never answered.  It just ends, undoing the whole plot of the movie.

And I guess that’s the problem with almost every movie based on a TV show that’s still on the air: a return of the status quo.  Miley didn’t learn anything from being in Tennessee that she didn’t already know.  She didn’t reveal her secret to the world, or change anything about her character.  What was the moral of the story?  That lying to the world about who you are is OK as long as they ask you to do it?  What are kids supposed to get out of this?

I know this movie wasn’t made for me, but still, it was cliched, badly edited, horriblely acted, had songs inserted at random points by random stars just to sell CDs, with an ambigious moral message at the end.

Overall: All kinds of bad.