August 17, 2010
Miley, if your fans loved Nicholas Sparks' Dear John, Nights in Rodanthe, The Notebook and Message in a Bottle, tell them to heist another hanky and hum along to The Last Song.
And, Miss Cyrus, we appreciate that you are quirky cute and acutely talented. Good crooners make fine actors. How else could you belt your best when you feel crappy?
Sadly, some shabby lines slipped into the final cut. Sure Director Julie Ann Robinson might have asked you for another take, but top artists make damn sure to deliver a primo performance every time. You didn't. You could. (That is a compliment.)
However, the complete cast and crew were short-sheeted by a recycled sentimental screenplay by novelist/melodramatist Nicholas Spark (with Jeff Van Wie).
Your divorced Mom (Kelly Preston) has sent you, whiny Ronnie, to spend the summer on the Georgia coast with your estranged composer/musician Dad (Greg Kinnear), in hopes that you would reconnect with him and resurrect your piano career. (You played Carnegie at age seven, so why now, nine years later, did you jilt Julliard?)
Even Kinnear, Hollywood's ubiquitous dark horse who always ponies up winners, was saddled by the sappy story. And in the end, poor charming Preston was left to tidy up the stable with nary a shovel.
Your off-on-off-on boyfriend, Will (Liam Hemsworth) did a good job with a nice combo of eyes, abs and acting chops. (Expect to see your reality squeeze many times more at a theater near you.)
Your tweener brother, Jonah, (Bobby Coleman with the face of an old soul), can flood tears faster than filmdom's finest.
Happily, no one compromised the cinematography. John Lindley shot an exquisite movie. (The Blu-ray version intensifies his luscious camera work.)
The framing, lighting and locations provided an impeccable canvas, while the palette of actors should and could have created a work of art.
Somewhere between the painter and the brushes, the final picture was not a masterpiece - merely a weepy watercolor.
Next time, Miley, be unfailingly vigilant about your scripts and performance (a tough assignment since you already have committed three cine projects to your calendar.)
Even with your abundant confidence, experience and ambition, you will require a lot more moxie and mettle to mask Miley Cyrus and Hannah Montana from your movie persona.
And enough with the achy breaky heart. If you ditch the pouts and dig deeper to unearth your inner jolly, you could exhume a multifaceted gem.
You are not the pop tartlet of tinsel town as labeled by many strident critics. Now prove it.
Should I be sorry I saw your chic pic? Absolutely not. It is teeming with potential talent and blessed with Kinnear.
And if you should choose to pass through your latest portal of possibilities, we'll be back to watch you again and again.
Sparks conceived The Last Song for Walt Disney as a vehicle for their recently retired Hannah Montana, Cyrus' mega tween-cum-teen star of movies and TV. This is his first script (cowritten) from his repertoire of romantic novels.
The Extras include the mandatory axed shots and alternative scenes.
Also the chronic mutually congratulatory talking heads make an appearance. They accompany the making and playing of the music video, Cyrus' "When I Look at You." (Hey, boys, your work could speak for itself.)
And there's a semi-treacly set tour with the demi-precious Bobby Coleman, who perfectly personifies Nicolas Sparks' writing - savvy but saccharine. (Coleman can emote, but will he master acting?)
The veritable indulgence is listening to first-time film director Robinson and producer Jennifer Gibgot's running commentary, (requiring a second - yet more pleasurable - viewing of The Last Song).
As a very experienced television director in the U.K. and the U.S., (with a Golden Globe nomination), the English import recounts the challenges of assembling this movie.
She even tackles the stickiest tar baby: her tug-of-war with producers.
For film students, there's the matter of directing - everyday minutiae of choices and sacrifices.
For the film fans, there's the natter of gossip - everyday tidbits of comings and goings.
To start with, Miley had to learn to play piano!
And Aussie Liam's lessons, coaching and courses included stained glass, volleyball, American English and scuba certification.
Robinson even reveals the very scene where the then 16 year old Miley and 19 year old Liam's budding screen romance cross-pollinated with their real lives.
While the commentary would have you believe that this is Hemsworth's first foray into show biz, he has a history of Australian soap and film.
He actually came to the U.S. to screen test against his older brother Chris for the title role of Kenneth Branagh's upcoming Thor. Chris won the battle for Thor; Liam won Will.
The director also provides a great lesson in "yes, you can" with her exploration of planning, coping and confronting the gamut of challenges: from the endless sweltering wet weather to the ever swarming Hannah fans.
Ultimately, the satisfying and informative Extras reveal how well Robinson's sea legs provided solid support to the movie. But in end, the final film must stand on its own, listing and pitching on Sparks' soppy ocean of emotions.
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
Director: Julie Ann Robinson
Cast:Miley Cyrus, Liam Hemsworth, Greg Kinnear, Bobby Coleman, Kelly Preston, Hallock Beals, Stephanie Leigh, Nick Searcy
Length: 107 minutes
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
DTS-HD Master Audio
Dolby Digital 5.1
Dolby Digital 5.1
English SDH, French, Spanish