During the opening scenes of So Undercover, in which a borderline obnoxious Miley Cyrus scales rooftops during a private-eye gig, I assumed the worst. Cyrus, with her two-packs-a-day smoker's voice and penchant for sass, was going to make these 94 minutes into a movie reviewer's hell. But then, So Undercover sticks Cyrus in a New Orleans sorority, and turns into something resembling passable, Disney Channel entertainment. Cyrus is Molly Morris but pretends to be sorority girl Brooke Stonebridge, which really does sound like a WASPY neighborhood, after the FBI asks her to guard the daughter of a high-priority asset. By no means is So Undercover a great movie, but its target audience - adolescent girls - should eat it up. The content is pretty tame, and the film actually promotes good values for said audience, so parents won't be too upset if they stumble upon So Undercover in the family Blu-ray player.
Molly works with her father (Mike O'Malley), a former cop with a gambling problem, as a private eye, concentrating mostly on cheating spouses. Molly is approached by Armon (Jeremy Piven), who asks her to pose as a Kappa Kappa Zeta sister and keep an eye on Alex (Lauren McKnight), the daughter of a powerful Russian mogul. Molly trades her sneakers and camera for high heels and pearls, and takes her dumber-than-dirt Brooke to campus, where she rooms with deadpan Becky (Kelly Osbourne) and avoids snotty sorority queen Sasha (Eloise Mumford). Since So Undercover isn't too clever, this transition comes courtesy of Brooke's newfound vocabulary, which includes far too liberal usage of "amazeballs" and "totes." There must be a love interest, so Brooke meets nice-guy Nicholas (Joshua Bowman) by admiring his motorcycle before feigning ignorance.
Cyrus found early success in another dual role on Disney's Hannah Montana, but has yet to make the jump to more adult fare. So Undercover skipped theaters, and is only slightly more edgy. There are a number of low-energy action sequences where Brooke gets to act like a cop, but the movie is more entertaining when Brooke is trying to fit in at KKZ. Alex and Brooke become fast friends, and Alex never misses a chance to chastise the silly sorority rituals. The script, from Allan Loeb and Steven Pearl, is passively funny at times, with one or two surprisingly biting ribs at sorority culture. Unfortunately, most of the laughs are aimed squarely at a young female audience, and So Undercover lacks the crossover appeal of Mean Girls and Easy A.
Cyrus isn't a particularly subtle performer but her energy grew on me, and I can't say I totally hated her performance. The plot gets pretty ridiculous, and Brooke's involvement in an FBI investigation is more fantasy than reality. Sure, the FBI is going to let an untrained teenager investigate a criminal conspiracy without backup or direction. Nevertheless, So Undercover could be worse, and I suspect its intended audience will admire Cyrus' moderate ass-kicking skills. This is pretty innocuous stuff, though, and So Undercover doesn't leave much of an impression.
The 2.40:1/1080p/AVC-encoded transfer is bright and clear, with good detail and color saturation. There are plenty of bright pinks and reds for the transfer to tackle, and colors never bleed. Close-ups and wide shots are equally impressive, with good depth and texture. Black levels are solid, and I noticed only minor aliasing.
The 5.1 Dolby True HD soundtrack has good clarity and range. Dialogue is clear and audible, and the surround speakers are used to provide light ambience and support action effects. The music is spaced well, and the subwoofer bolsters the soundtrack and action effects. An English 2.0 stereo track is also included, as are English SDH and Spanish subtitles.
So Undercover is an acceptable action comedy from Miley Cyrus. The young actress has moved into adulthood in her private life but her films continue to target a younger audience. Cyrus goes undercover for the FBI as a Louisiana sorority sister to mixed results. So Undercover is occasionally funny, but lacks the wit and action spark to make it memorable. Rent It.
William lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, and looks forward to a Friday-afternoon matinee.