March 31, 2010, - 12:16 pm
If you’re the parent of tween or teen fans of Miley Cyrus (or, as we call her here, Miley Virus), think twice about her new movie, “The Last Song,” which debuts in theaters, today. It’s not that there’s anything explicit or graphic that’s objectionable–there are no four-letter words or even a single sex scene. (And, perhaps, we should be happy at that. But that should be the baseline, not the standard for a great movie for a young audience.)
It’s that the movie is so cloying, maudlin, and manipulative, it made me angry. Throughout the entire second half of the movie, the loud, crying wails of the audience (at the screening I attended last week) were audible and scary. People at this chick flick were literally bawling. It’s not just that the movie was pointless and made everyone cry (including me), it’s that it wasn’t a happy movie-going experience. Instead, it’s an exercise in providing the entire Third World’s new water source through your eyeballs, as you watch an obviously contrived set-up to a father dying of cancer. For myself, all it did was remind me of my own father’s painful death from the disease. Did I need that? Do you? Not really. . . unless we had a financial interest in perpetuating Hannah Montana’s hackneyed showbiz career. And the plot was stupid.
Hey kids, enjoy the cancer movie. I’ll pick ya up in two hours. . . .
I walked out of the theater, angry. Angry at the typical, cheap emotional tricks I saw coming from miles away. Angry at the base manipulative nature of the whole thing, on top of a simpleton plot. Angry because for no reason I was put there to watch the pain of death by cancer for no point, unless the point is that a horrible actress, Cyrus, can have a launchpad and try to prove to the world that she’s beyond the days of a Disney kids’ show. I mean, who really wants to sit through a movie in which the loud, very audible crying and sniffling of the audience is the main event for half of it? Not me. Movies are supposed to be an escape from real life, not a compounding upon the problems of it. This wasn’t enjoyable at all. Instead, it was the usual trumped up melodrama . . . times ten. Lots of crying, screaming, yelling, fighting. Who needs it? Go to your local divorce court, and you’ll see the real thing for free.
The story: Cyrus plays Ronnie, a kid who was once a talented prodigy in piano playing. But once her parents broke up and her father (Greg Kinnear) left, she quit piano for a life of being a derelict and punk. She barely graduated high school, dresses like a goth girl, and ignores admission into Juilliard. After getting caught stealing, Ronnie and her little brother are sent to their father’s beach-side home for the summer, where he is at work composing music and building a new stained glass window for an old church that burnt down and is being restored.
Soon, Ronnie falls for a wealthy, preppy kid she meets on the beach (her real-life boyfriend, Liam Hemsworth). And that wealthy, preppy kid’s family has its own contrived, ridiculous set of monumental tragedy and unhappiness. Of course. Plus she learns her own father is suspected of burning down the church, himself. Sullen and belligerent, she doesn’t want to be there and argues with her dad. But soon, everything is great and they are getting along and she begins playing piano again, until . . . until she learns he is dying of cancer. The rest of the movie is watching her father slowly die.
Great movie, right? Does the world really need this much “cancer porn” on screen?
What was the point? I’m not sure. And the “happy ending” that was is really more like the band-aid over a happy ending that wasn’t.
It’s typical Nicholas Sparks schtick (who wrote the novels on which all of these are based: this one, “The Notebook,” “Nights in Rodanthe” (read my review), and “Dear John” (which I did like–read my review), though this is the worst of the bunch. It’s the typical formula. Two (usually) young, good-looking people fall in love, but then they are separated by some big, contrived event, then someone dies a horribly tragic death, but right after, there’s some tiny, happy thing that brings it around. In this case, that “tiny, happy reunification” isn’t enough to go beyond. This is Miley Cyrus–Hollywood Hack–failing at acting in the middle of a pointless display of cancer pain and death.
Greg Kinnear, who adds weight and gravitas, seemed so out of place in this manufactured, formulaic teen love flick, it’s like watching a Shakespearian actor grovelling to Donald Trump on the set of the long ago jumped-the-shark, “Celebrity Apprentice.” It doesn’t work. If there was one redeeming thing about this movie, it’s that Kinnear’s father in the movie is ultimately a loving, caring father . . . but he’s also the guy who abandoned the family, which is par for the course of the kind of father figures to which we’re constantly treated in anti-masculine Hollywood. The heroine in this movie is clearly the goth girl saint played by Cyrus. How many goth girls do you know, who are saints?
This movie was so obvious, so simple, so silly. If you really have nothing better to do with two hours of your time and ten bucks plus of your money, this is for you. For everyone else, conserve the Kleenex for legitimate purposes and send Miley packin’. Time for her teen fans to wake up. Stick a fork in her. She’s done.
Tags: Disney, Greg Kinnear, Hannah Montana, Liam Hemsworth, Miley Cyrus, Miley Virus, movie, movie review, Movie Reviews, The Last Song, Touchstone