Essentially slapped together to peel a few more bucks off exasperated parents who couldn't nab a ticket to Cyrus's sold-out U.S. tour, "Best of Both Worlds" doesn't let its coin-gobbling heart show. Instead, it's a rather sweet reminder of pre-teen hysteria, where 16,000 young girls have gathered to scream until their lungs bleed and bow at the feet of their queen: Ms. Miley. The young mogul takes this daunting entertainment challenge seriously, and her entourage has assembled a delightful night of song, dance, winking, and confetti guns.
I came to this concert picture understanding Cyrus's appeal, aware of her tunes, and unable to watch the Disney Channel "Hannah Montana" show for more than 30 seconds without inviting a throbbing headache. I was wary of this live movie, yet right off the bat "Best of Both Worlds" steamrolls over the viewer with its craving to jazz hands right into your heart. There's not a spontaneous moment in the entire film, but it still pleases, due in no small part to Cyrus's energetic stage prowling and the audience itself: a virtual sea of braces, glow sticks, and anxiety-attack smiles.
Surprisingly, "Best of Both Worlds" is something of a documentary, presenting the viewer with a behind-the-scenes look at the tour's creation, overseen by the Disney Channel version of Jim Malone: veteran choreographer Kenny Ortega. We also spy Cyrus in a relaxed state, learning rock star microphone stand moves and singing with dad Billy Ray. Perhaps it's an economical way to pad out the brief film (75 minutes), but it's amusing to watch the crew pull off snappy costume changes and assorted mayhem, along with humorous interviews conducted with energized concertgoers.
For 15 years-old, Miley Cyrus has a comfort onstage few adults share. She's a natural performer, not to mention a decent singer with ideal rusty pipes that are sure to grow interesting with age and more intricate songwriting. For now, she's a pop queen, and sprinting through the Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus catalog of empowerment anthems and party ditties, she displays outstanding personality and traditional plastic performance sass. She's well-rehearsed, but Cyrus is game to give her fans the night of their young lives.
To help push some of these girls through puberty, Cyrus has brought along The Jonas Brothers: the Shaun Cassidys of the MySpace generation. The Jonas boys whip the audience into a disturbing frenzy, teaming up with Cyrus for a boisterous performance of the hit "We Got the Party" before taking on a solo number. They sound a little too flat for my ears, but perhaps that's missing the point of their appeal.
My only real complaint here would be that the 3D isn't pushed nearly as far as it should be. Director Bruce Hendricks doesn't like to play shots out, which is where 3D holds its power. Crowd shots are fun, but minimal, with Hendricks preferring to edit the film like any other concert video. It may be a forgettable pop culture bookmark, but "Best of Both Worlds" deserved a little more three-dimensional awe.
Watching the crowd inside the theater is almost nearly as fun as watching the movie. Even though Cyrus is being projected onto a screen, the young fans still respond passionately, resulting in spontaneous dancing and a sing-along at the screening I attended. It may last for only a fleeting moment, but it's hilarious to see a concert film engage the audience so successfully. This is no "U2 3D" (a thoughtful, thrilling 3D concert experience), yet "Best of Both Worlds" gets the job done in a bright, flashy manner that's more appealing than it seems, especially to those positioned outside Miley Cyrus's considerable reach.