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Hannah Montana on DVD:
The Complete First Season | Compilations: Livin' the Rock Star Life Pop Star Profile Life's What You Make It One in a Million Keeping it Real
That's So Suite Life of Hannah Montana Wish Gone Amiss | Hannah Montana DVD Game | Hannah & Miley: Best of Both Worlds Concert Film

"Hannah Montana" Keeping it Real DVD Review

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Show & DVD Details

Creators: Michael Poryes, Rich Correll, Barry O'Brien / Executive Producers: Steven Peterman, Michael Poryes / Writers: Jay J. Demopoulos, Steven James Meyer, Michael Poryes, Sally Lapiduss, Andrew Green, Heather Wordham, Steven Peterman / Directors: Rich Correll, Shannon Flynn, Roger S. Christiansen

Cast: Miley Cyrus (Miley Stewart/Hannah Montana), Emily Osment (Lilly Truscott), Mitchel Musso (Oliver Oken), Jason Earles (Jackson Stewart), Moises Arias (Rico), Billy Ray Cyrus (Robby Ray Stewart)

Recurring Character: Romi Dames (Traci Van Horn) / Guest Stars: Gregory Itzin (William Harris II), Anita Finlay (Jeanette Harris), Michael McShae (Trey Harris), Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson (Himself), Tom McGowan (Leo), Rachel York (Isis), Meshach Taylor (Dahliano), Tiffany Thornton (Becky), Jodi Shilling (Robin), Corbin Bleu (Johnny Collins), Frances Callier (Roxy), William Christian (Edward), Sheryl Lee Ralph (Clarice), Donny Osmond (Himself), Ray Romano (Himself), Shanica Knowles (Amber Addison), Anna Maria Perez de Tagle (Ashley DeWitt), Wayne Wilderson (Officer Diaria), Sydney Park (Kelsey), Ernie Grunwald (Ed), Nicole Randall Johnson (Lorraine)

Running Time: 113 minutes (5 episodes) / Rating: TV-G
1.33:1 Fullscreen (Original Broadcast Ratio) / Dolby Surround (English, French, Spanish)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish; Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
DVD Release Date: March 31, 2009 / Suggested Retail Price: $19.99
Episodes originally aired between September 21, 2007 and November 9, 2008
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9) / White Keepcase

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In two weeks, Hannah Montana will make the leap from cable television to the big screen. Six years ago, that would have seemed special. Ten years ago, it would have been momentous. Today, it feels like business as usual. That's because movie studios have been granting cable properties theatrical treatment for some time now. Hannah Montana: The Movie follows similar spin-offs of "South Park", "Reno 911!", "Aqua Teen Hunger Force", "Sex and the City", and Disney Channel's own "Lizzie McGuire."
High School Musical 3 was a big multiplex draw despite succeeding two telemovies. Hannah isn't even a stranger to cinemas, with the character having shared last year's record-setting 3-D concert movie with her portrayer Miley Cyrus. With the line between the once-distant mediums blurred, Hannah's new film can't be considered an extraordinary transition. But the young audience it will move from schoolyards, malls, and living rooms into theaters should guarantee ample media coverage and profit.

Hannah's big movie is also the most interesting thing about her latest DVD release. That's because "Hannah Montana": Keeping it Real includes a unique code to get a free ticket up to $7.50. Beyond that offer and the inclusion of a bonus episode, there's not much to distinguish Real from the four previous 4-episode compilations Disney has issued since 2006. Last fall's Complete First Season DVD suggested the studio was letting its frugal tween sitcom grow up and get a box set like Mommy and Daddy's active favorites all do. Now, it's back to the 90-minute disc and until we see the rest of the year's schedule, we won't know whether that's the result of disparate sales numbers, the floundering economy, or Disney just trying to cover every consumer demographic.

Hannah/Miley (Miley Cyrus) and Lola/Lilly (Emily Osment) are in awe at their first glimpse of the hip new Z-Phone. Getting to meet longtime pop icon Isis (Rachel York) leaves Miley thinking that Hannah's due for reinvention.

I felt like I said everything I could about Disney Channel's top-rated sitcom in my Season 1 review. I've never been a fan of it, but there's something about watching ten hours of something you don't care for that brings out stronger feelings of dislike. Three months later, those feelings haven't quite dissipated; I guess I'll give the movie a chance,
but I think I'd be just fine never seeing another episode of this program. Alas, we needed someone to write about this DVD and so here again I am.

In television and film, there are kid-friendly properties that bring no pain to older people tuning in with an open mind. Then there is something like "Hannah Montana" and practically everything else being produced for today's Disney Channel, which can magically delight those aged about 7 to 13 (especially girls) and those who are able to recreate the mindset of that life stage. The show does little, however, for anyone outside that audience, with reactions typically ranging from apathy to anger.

The more exposed to the series I am, the more threatened my apathy becomes. Why can't this show do some good? Blessed with an enormous, impressionable audience, all it wants to do is recycle pickles facing the teen everygirl who's secretly a music megastar. My standards aren't too high. I'd settle for a few morsels of humor or the slightest sign of a genuine heart. Instead, we continue to receive broad and unfunny hijinks, where every joke and twist is foreseen so far in advance that payoffs never come. At no point does "Hannah Montana" seek to move things forward or gain substance. It's one shallow predicament after another -- boys, beaches, fashions, and nonsensical secrets -- always ending happily with a disposable lesson unconvincingly delivered.

Robbie Ray (Billy Ray Cyrus) and Jackson (Jason Earles) get the privilege of being covered with clothes in yet another hilarious B storyline. If not for "The Game Plan", this could have been the most embarrassing thing Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has been seen in.

Maybe the premise is just too hokey to amount to anything special. So, we get Miley Stewart (Miley Cyrus) repeatedly fumbling to protect her huge secret (a concept that's never believable in the age of TMZ). Sometimes evidence of her country upbringing slips through the cracks of her Malibu dream life, but for laughs, not trouble of consequence.
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By her side with an alter ego of her own is Lilly Truscott (Emily Osment), friend to the end. Back home, Miley's father Robbie Ray (Billy Ray Cyrus) and brother Jackson (Jason Earles) provide no shortage of broad shtick all their own, usually involving messes, thinly-drawn lies, and male bonding.

Here's a look at Keeping it Real's featured episodes, which are by far the show's most recent to be made available on DVD.

"The Test of My Love" (22:35) (Originally aired August 31, 2008)
After taking a liking to wealthy boy Trey (Michael McShae), Miley struggles to make a good impression on his snobby parents on a dinner date. To help, Dad and Jackson drop their housecleaning plans to pose as well-to-do Brits.

"Don't Stop 'Til You Get the Phone" (22:35) (Originally aired September 21, 2007)
Despite Miley's constant begging, Robbie Ray won't buy her a state-of-the-art new Z-Phone, driving her and Lilly to dabble in embarrassing paparazzo photography (with a Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson sighting). Jackson tries to hide his extreme sunburn.

Rico (Moises Arias) makes a deal with his often put-upon beach stand worker Jackson (Jason Earles). Johnny Collins (Corbin Bleu) and Hannah Montana's (Miley Cyrus) colorful "If We Were a Movie" fantasy comes to a sudden stop.

"Yet Another Side of Me" (22:35) (Originally aired August 3, 2008)
Upon meeting longtime pop icon Isis (Rachel York), Miley decides Hannah Montana needs to reinvent herself to keep her fans hooked. Jackson gets a salary advance from the shrewd Rico (Moises Arias), but he's got to earn it by barking.

"We're All on This Date Together" (22:35) (Originally aired October 12, 2008)
To raise money for charity, Hannah goes on a date with two high bidders: Rico and Johnny Collins (Corbin Bleu, reprising his role from the very first episode). Robbie poses as Roxy's husband to impress her old high school classmate. Donny Osmond and Ray Romano make guest appearances as themselves, Romano quite hilariously, but it's High School Musical's Bleu who gets the biggest applause from the young studio audience.

VIDEO and AUDIO

"Hannah Montana" appears in 1.33:1 fullscreen and Dolby Surround. I guess the studio has stopped bothering with the 5.1-channel soundtracks, but you'd be hard-pressed to notice the difference anyway. The show looks about the same as it has on past DVDs, which is to say it's as bright, garish, and full of motion blur as it is on television, but doesn't have the Disney Channel bug on the screen.

Miley Cyrus and two music video stylists (one resembling Bruno) break down her retro look in "Hannah Gets a New Look!" On her first solo drive, Miley gets pulled over by Officer Diaria (Wayne Wilderson). Please, please, please let there be a lesson learned and some diarrhea jokes in "Ready, Set, Don't Drive"! A Miley locket swings low, while Jackson and Robbie Ray deal maturely with sunburn on the Keeping it Real DVD's main menu.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and PACKAGING

The DVD contains two video bonuses. First up is the featurette "Miley's Makeover: Hannah Gets a New Look!" (4:17), which is every bit as throwaway as the extras on such discs usually are.
This short piece allows Miley Cyrus and two of her "music video stylists" to show off the new outfits she wears on her real Miley/Hannah concerts with a discussion of the retro influences.

Then more likely to be appreciated by fans is a "bonus" episode, Season 3's "Ready, Set, Don't Drive" (22:37; Originally aired November 9, 2008). In it, Miley fails her road test, then plots to get her license in time for a cool party, winding up in jail in the process. Also, Rico's presence at the Stewart home drives Jackson crazy.

The disc loads with ads for Disney, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Up, Dadnapped/Hatching Pete, Princess Protection Program, Disney Blu-ray, and Disney Movie Rewards. Post-compilation/menu previews give us looks at the High School Musical DVD Game, High School Musical 3, Monsters, Inc. Blu-ray, Disney XD, and Bedtime Stories. Oddly, there isn't a Hannah Montana: The Movie trailer to be found.

The main menu jazzes up its featured montage with swinging Hannah/Miley lockets and flashy graphics. This might be the first Disney DVD menu I've seen that cues episode playback after timing out.

Three items are found inside the keepcase. A booklet is 7 parts Blu-ray promotion and 1 part Disney Movie Rewards code. A smaller but thicker one further advertises Blu-ray and a number of Disney Channel DVD titles. The final sheet provides your unique code for printing out a movie ticket worth up to $7.50.

Miley thinks Hannah needs a new look. Obvious cut to Hannah as goateed rapper. (Audience laughs like their lives depend on it.) It wouldn't be a Hannah Montana DVD review without some meaningful father/daughter time with Billy Ray and Destiny Hope Miley Cyrus.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

You can get whole movies for the per-episode cost Disney places on these "Hannah Montana" compilations and those movies aren't aired around the clock on basic cable. If you've got some pre-teen girls at home, doing that might not make you the world's best parent in their eyes. But it makes sense economically and once the kids have grown out of their Hannah phase, they'll likely see more value in DVDs like most of these. Besides, it doesn't take a genius to recognize that season sets are a much better deal for the customer. And as long as this show continues to keep enough folks happy, even Disney's hesitance in the TV DVD market won't be enough to leave future "Hannah" collections off store shelves.

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Related Reviews:
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That's So Suite Life of Hannah Montana Wish Gone Amiss Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: The Best of Both Worlds Concert
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Reviewed March 27, 2009.