“You know, I didn’t expect so much screaming,” confides one father between flashy production numbers in “Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert.” But the ear-piercing pandemonium emanates less from the audience than from within this quickie concert docu, spiffed up via 3-D presentation, since the fancy specs and all-access shooting style actually serve to discourage target aud’s natural sing-along tendencies. Mixing concert footage with behind-the-scenes interstitials, pic looks poised to rack up awesome returns during its one-week, digital 3-D run, at least in per-screen terms. Seems Disney has discovered yet another way to print money.
For the uninitiated, Hannah Montana is the stage name of ordinary girl Miley Stewart (played by Miley Cyrus, daughter of achy-breaky country hitmaker Billy Ray Cyrus), who leads a double life: awkward high schooler by day, pop sensation by night. “Hannah Montana’s” split-identity theme carries over to the concert, in which Cyrus performs hit songs from the show in character (complete with platinum-blonde, Cher-style wig) before switching to original numbers as herself, topping it all off with the self-explanatory “Best of Both Worlds” single.
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Between songs, helmer Bruce Hendricks (“ESPN’s Ultimate X”) cuts to 2-D backstage footage, spotlighting either Cyrus’ rehearsal process or testimonials from her most enthusiastic fans. One amusing background scene shows fathers racing in high-heeled shoes across wet pavement for a chance to win tickets for their daughters, but most merely serve to interrupt the momentum, more like commercial breaks than attention-deficit energy-boosters.
It’s all engineered as part of the Miley Cyrus mythmaking effort, reinforcing the classic Disney dream that anyone can become the studio’s next pop sensation (never mind the grueling yearlong audition process that landed her the gig).
Unlike ex-Mouseketeers-gone-bad Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, Cyrus still projects a chaste, wholesome image of teenage fun, and she performs without all the trampy, sexualized theatrics, making her a less toxic role model for all those screaming tweens.
Audience is made up largely of ecstatic little girls, overwhelmed dads and ironically inclined college kids. But even stage-side seats would have been a pale comparison to this virtual experience, as the view alternates among seven cameras, most mounted on cranes. Dynamic camera moves, not those of the vanilla backup dancers (choreographed by “High School Musical” director Kenny Ortega), best serve the movie’s three-dimensional element.
Movie picks up momentum midway through, when Cyrus is joined by the three Jonas Brothers, who know exactly how to play the crowd and the cameras. As 3-D goes, watching them criss-cross in space proves more engaging than observing one strutting performer.
Stereo ace Vince Pace doesn’t push the 3-D gimmick too far, keeping depth of field relatively shallow throughout. Cyrus’ character appears slightly forward of the screen at most times, meaning the only objects that loom out into the auditorium are disembodied audience hands in the foreground or the occasional z-axis gag (tossing a used guitar pick into the crowd or jousting with the mic stand). The single most impressive shot hovers above the band’s drummer as he flips a stick, letting it spiral toward the camera before catching it again.
Unlike “U2 3D,” which uses a sophisticated system of overlapping dissolves to create a unique multilayered effect, “Hannah Montana” deals exclusively in hard cuts between shots. The approach makes for a less mesmerizing experience overall, but is still relatively intuitive to follow.