**/**** Image A- Sound A Extras B-
starring Miley Cyrus, Emily Osment, Jason Earles, Billy Ray Cyrus
screenplay by Dan Berendsen
directed by Peter Chelsom
by Bill Chambers Peter Chelsom may have sold his soul when he joined the ranks of Lasse Hallstrom and John Madden to become a house director for Miramax, but going to work at Disney--on a feature-film vehicle for one of the company's biggest brands, no less--is a mercenary move, pure and simple. So it's surprising, considering he probably could've treated the job as a paid vacation without incurring the wrath of "Hannah Montana" fans (who've been weaned on a particularly low-rent sitcom), to say nothing of the suits in charge (Disney favours foremen to filmmakers, after all), that Chelsom seems legitimately inspired by the material more often than not. The 'Hannah Montana' concept itself needs only gentle pushes to yield something resembling a story, but Chelsom doesn't exactly coast on it; anyone who's involuntarily endured the collected works of Kenny Ortega or Andy Fickman will notice a more idiosyncratic hand at the helm almost immediately. While I can't say I've ever thought much of Chelsom's films (they're a bit twinkly for my tastes), he appears to have found his niche. As a work of Hollywood imperialism goes, it's certainly preferable to his remake of Shall We Dance?.