As an adult sitting through the 3-D Hannah Montana concert film, it’s impossible not to be overwhelmed — but not by the piercing screech of thousands of frantic 9-year-olds, the crisp digital imagery or the catchiness of the Disney star’s peppy tunes.
Rather, the sensation is one of longing: You wish desperately for Miley Cyrus, the singing, dancing, songwriting, trendsetting dynamo, to avoid turning into Britney Spears.
She’s insanely likable and talented, with poise and presence beyond her years. It’s all out there in front of her, and watching the 15-year-old on stage and behind the scenes, you just pray that she’ll turn out all right, and not get swept away by the insanity of pop-star celebrity. (In theory, having her mom and dad, the formerly mulleted Billy Ray Cyrus, around at all times provides some structure and guidance.)
Of course, the tween girls for whom “Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert” was intended won’t be thinking about this. They’ll just be giddy to feel so close to their idol, especially since many of them probably never had a chance to see her live on tour, with tickets selling out in scant minutes and scalpers jacking up the prices.
With the three-dimensional effects, it feels as if Cyrus is walking right up you on the catwalk, her perky entourage of backup dancers in tow. One trick — in which she bounces a drumstick on the floor and sends it flying toward the camera — might just make you flinch.
Little girls will be happy to hear the “Hannah Montana” star perform their favorite songs and thrill to catch a peek of the real Miley backstage — though naturally, the moments are carefully chosen to maintain her well-crafted wholesome image. It’s just more product, and not exactly a warts-and-all depiction.
Watching her interact with her country-singer dad is entertaining, though, simply because they play off each other so easily. In one scene, they sit side-by-side on the couch with guitars and she teaches him a song he’s written, as opposed to the other way around. And you have to give Billy Ray Cyrus credit for showing a sense of humor about his place on the food chain: At one point he jokes to her about how he’s played every Indian reservation casino from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Moments like these actually make you wish you could get to know her better, find out who she really is beneath the polished facade, if such a thing is possible.
But certainly the show is the thing, and Cyrus — both as herself and as her blonde-tressed, television alter ego — runs through all those songs that have been stuck in your head for months, since your kids probably play them nonstop. They include “We Got the Party,” “Nobody’s Perfect” and of course, “The Best of Both Worlds.” Those non-threatening Jonas Brothers, Nick, Joe and Kevin, come out for a few songs, too. And if you’re really paying attention, you can catch the moment when Cyrus dashes off stage and is replaced briefly by a body double to buy time for a wardrobe change — which caused a tizzy on the Internet but was a total non-story from the get-go.
Once the movie (and the ringing in your ears) stop, though, it’s obvious why Cyrus has become such a phenomenon. She’s pretty and stylish but never a mean girl, energetic and popular but not conceited. She makes it easy to imagine what it would be like to be friends with her — or at least dress like her. Which you can do because, you know, there’s also a Hannah Montana clothing line.