Hannah Montana: Life's What You Make It
For many parents with pre-teen children you probably sit your kids down in front of the television, tune into a safe cable channel like Disney and let them watch. In most cases the programming is so specifically targeted to the younger set that an adult will be bored to tears to watch along with the children. Then there are those shows that are not only tolerable to the adults but enjoyable to them as well. One such series is ‘Hannah Montana’. Since my child is now in her twenties and well beyond the target demographic of the series I really knew very little about it. That is until I was asked to review a DVD containing four episode, ‘Hannah Montana: Pop Star Profiler’. I figured that it would be just another sugar sweet piece of childhood entertainment but I found I was pleasantly surprised. It was fun to watch. When another Hannah Montana DVD set came along I actually found myself looking forward to previewing it. Yes, I was caught up in the sheer joy of the series. After many more adult films and programs this was like a sherbet served between the courses of a meal to cleanse the palette. It was refreshing to watch a young person on television who was not headed for rehab or in a series of DUIs. There was also a good role model for a relationship between a parent and child. This is a typical sit-com with the wild antics and unbelievable scenarios but there was a good hearted enjoyment to be had in the watching.
The premise is simple and based on the idea that every kid wants to be a pop star. Young teen Miley Stewart (Miley Cyrus) is a gifted singer and passionate about her talent. Her father Robbie (Billy Ray Cyrus) wants to let his daughter follow her dream but as a former singer himself knows the pitfalls of celebrity. They come up with a compromise. They invent an on stage persona, Hannah Montana which Miley can use in the public eye. In the off time she is normal Junior High School student Miley. This way she can have a chance at a normal life and social development. Only a few people know about Miley’s dual identity including her somewhat dippy brother Jackson (Jason Earles) and her two best friends Lilly Truscott (Emily Osment) and Oliver Oken (Mitchel Musso). For some episodes there is also Miley’s bodyguard Roxy (Frances Callier) who is also in the know. Instead of releasing a season set Disney as decided to go with theme discs. Each one has four episodes centered on a running topic. This set focuses on the difficulties Miley has in balancing her pop star career with a normal teenage girl’s life. All four of the episodes are from season two of the series.
Achy Jakey Heart (Part 1)
As the episode opens Lilly is reading a tabloid and discovers that Miley’s first crush, famous actor Jake Ryan (Cody Linley) is coming back to town for his film premier. The last time she saw him he kissed her and left for six months. In typical sit-com fashion Jake parachutes down next to her wearing a tuxedo. She turns around and sees him on one knee holding a rose ready to ask her back. Miley’s initial reaction is top dump a nearby milk shake over his head. Jake just wont take no for an answer, Miley soon finds her home filled with gifts from Jake. While Robbie doesn’t like seeing a boy after his daughter he has to admit he likes the muffin basket. Jake even shows up in a suit of armor to win back Miley. She finally gives in and agrees to a date but there are difficulties due to Jake’s busy schedule. Miley becomes very jealous when she sees Jake on television at his movie’s opening with another girl. The winds change again and Miley forgives Jake and goes out on a romantic date with him. When they get back Robbie is waiting in front of the door to prevent a goodnight kiss much to the chagrin of Miley.
Achy Jakey Heart (Part 1)
Miley decides to let Jake know about her secret identity to help the relationship. After some initial shock Jake appears to be accepting of the disguise. The new couple starts to date in public with Miley out of the Hannah wig. At the movies Jake is surrounded by adoring fans ready to get him anything he wants. Miley wants Jake to wear a disguise while they are out so they won’t be inundated with the attention of fans. Jake gives it a try but soon realizes that he has as difficult time acting normal. Miley sees Jake for what he really is a prima donna. She realizes that she has to break it off. The only problem is she is afraid that Jake will be upset and tell the world her secret. Miley and Lilly hatch a plan to make him break up with her.
I Am Hannah, Hear Me Croak
After doing six encores in a concert Miley comes down with a serious case of laryngitis. The next morning she can hardly speak not to mention sing. Robbie tries to console her telling Miley that it used to happen to him on tour and the only thing that would work is when her mother would make him not talk for awhile. This is not so easy for a teenaged girl. With a big televised concert scheduled for Saturday Miley has to try anything to get her voice back. After a week of silence has gone by it looks as if her speaking and singing voice has returned. Unfortunately the laryngitis returns in the middle of the big concert. A doctor (Tim Russ) is called in to examine her. His pronouncement is surgery is required if she ever wants to sing again. Miley is torn between her fear of the surgery and being afraid of having to give up being Hannah Montana.
I Want You To Want Me...To Go to Florida
A new pop princess, Mikayla (Selena Gomez) has a television performance the same night as Hannah. While Mikayla feigns being nice on screen once the camera is off she shows herself as a determined rival for Hannah. The two are scheduled to appear in a week for a big charity concern being held in Florida. Hannah tries to be nice but Mikayla openly hates her. The new pop star’s attitude is echoed by her abrasive and obnoxious manager (Camryn Manheim) who is not only insulting to Hannah but her father as well. Things take a bad turn when Robbie injuries his back while trying to show Jackson how to exercise. Miley has never been out of state without her father so her appearance at the benefit may have to be called off. Robbie has always taught Miley to stand up on her won but now the thought of her going far away with only Roxy there is not something that he wants. Miley fools Roxy into taking her and soon meets up with Dad on the plane.
What carries this series even for the adults is the enthusiasm and sheer talent of Miley Cyrus. Not only does she have an excellent singing voice she can handle the comedy better than most adult sit-com stars. With her expressive almost rubbery face she can deliver a punch line with an expression. She is also a natural for the many slap stick routines that are used in the show. A perfect straight girl for her is Emily Osment. She plays Lilly as ditzy but not stupid. Billy Ray Cyrus has an easy part since he is Miley’s real life father. The chemistry between them leaps off the screen.
Besides the four season two episodes Disney included two extras. The first is a music video with Billy Ray Cyrus singing ‘Ready Set, Don’t Go’ which was featured in the Florida episode. There is also a behind the scenes look at the production. Finally something that the whole family can truly enjoy together.