Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Hannah and Miley: Best of Both Worlds in 3-D

by Wayne Robins

Last weekend J and I went to see "Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: The Best of Both Worlds"
concert in the local multiplex. It was my idea. As she was getting dressed, J, who is
13, asked if anything else was playing. I told her it didn't matter: I wasn't interested in any other movie. I wanted to see Hannah/Miley.

And I wasn't disappointed. The movie represents the pinnacle of
digital 3-D in movies. There really hadn't been much progress in the field between William Castle's "13 Ghosts," (1960) one of my childhood favorite horror movies, and the disappointing "Spy Kids 3: Game Over" (2003). The "Hannah" concert movie takes 3-D to a new level (I haven't seen the U2 concert film yet). It brings you to the foot of the stage and to the faces of the musicians, yet offers a relaxed perspective. A guitarist tosses a pick and you instinctively reach out to grab it; a drummer twirls his sticks in the air and you think you might get poked
in the eye before you watch the stick's smooth descent back into his hands.

I found the music first-rate, or at least well-played and well-rehearsed and preferred the first half of the concert ("Hannah's" music) to the slightly more rote Miley teen-rock.
J. said later she could have gone for
more backstage or documentary presentation, and I agreed with her. The rehearsals featuring master choreographer Kenny Ortega are especially
rich and rewarding: I could watch a whole movie of Ortega bringing the star,
band and dancers up to speed. (Kicking and catching a guitar stand while counting
time is not as easy as it looks).

Is this the future of live musical entertainment? I sort of hope so. After 30 years of attending rock concerts as my business, I am much more comfortable with 3D and state of the art sound in the local mall theater rather than actually having to deal
with the crowds, noise, parking, lousy seats and drop dead insane prices of arena concert tickets.

As a sidelight, I identified with Miley's dad Billy Ray Cyrus, who had a huge country and pop hit in 1992 with "Achy Breaky Heart" before disappearing from the charts. Ten years ago I was in Nashville in the office of Luke Lewis, then president of Mercury Records Nashville, interviewing him for a book-length history of Mercury Records that Danny Goldberg commissioned me to write. Towards the end of the interview, I offered Lewis my sure thing to the return Cyrus to the top of the charts.

"I've got three words for Billy Ray's next hit," I told Lewis. "Polk. Salad. Annie." The 1969 Tony Joe White hit that had become a staple of
Elvis Presley's live show seemed to me to be low-hanging fruit, a tune Cyrus could cover that even brain dead country radio would embrace. It didn't happen, but it is nice to know that failure to dent the charts again was not the end of Billy Ray Cyrus' story. In some ways, it was just the beginning.

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