'Hannah Montana' movie has catchy tunes, good choreography

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Miley Cyrus during a scene from her new movie "Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert."
Some theater chains are charging premium prices for tickets to this Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds 3D concert film that Disney just released. Upward of $15 a ticket, to cover the "3D technology."

And it is totally worth it. Especially if your kids are fans and couldn't get tickets to the sold-out tour that passed through Orlando this week. It's not the whole concert, but there are no pauses in the action the way live shows go through costume changes, etc. The movie, a one-week only release, shows you things you'd never see on stage.

And $15 is a bargain compared to what scalpers were asking us to fork over so our little darlings could see their teen idol.

The movie, directed by Bruce Hendricks, takes us as up close and personal as is decently permitted with a pop tart of only 15 years. It takes us temptingly backstage to see how this pop phenomenon is managed, rehearsed and respected by the adults who run her career. The best scenes are seeing veteran choreographer/director Kenny Ortega. He did High School Musical, Newsies, and he choreographed that epic parade dance in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. He conceived and built the show. It's a serious stitch to watch the 57-year-old Ortega show the teenager how to rock a mike-stand Steven Tyler/Freddie Mercury style.

Disney put together a tight five-piece rock band with two back-up singers and eight dancers, spent the cash on mammoth TV monitors and every stage effect under the sun, and gave Billy Ray Cyrus's daughter a magnificent showcase for her TV persona, Hannah Montana, and her "real" pop star self, Miley Cyrus.

Sure, it all feels a mite canned. She's really singing and really dancing. But the gestures and stage patter are rehearsed to death -- winks, mini-waves, faux touching the hands of the front row of the catwalk she struts constantly during the show. Still, her energy and smile never fail. The girl is a showbiz pro at 15.

It's funny to watch her mother dismiss her concerns after being dropped during a dance "lift" in one night's show. Some moms might be a little assertive with the choreographer after a near disaster like that. Not this stage mom. "You've gotta trust him," she drawls in the only moment in the show that makes one think "The Spears Family." And mom is there to help Miley go through a 37-second costume change, wrestling shoes on and off life a union stagehand.

And a father-daughter scene in which Mr. Achy Breaky professes to be "learning" a song Miley wrote is a real eye-roller ("song-writer" credits are always suspect among pop stars). But whatever the parents are doing, they can be proud of the image she projects and the effort and cash that somebody (Billy Ray, maybe?) insisted Disney put into her tour. This is first-class, all the way.

Sure, it's Wal-Mart pop, all bubble-gum anthems and arm-waving rockers. But Best of Both Worlds compares nicely to the new U2 3D concert film. And Disney knows how to get the most out of 3D, hurling drumsticks, confetti and guitar picks at the audience and getting right up in our girl's face for most of the show.

The tunes are catchy as all get out, the adult backup performers play well to the camera and the mop-topped Jonas Brothers do their three-song set with well-rehearsed verve.

A little song, a little dance, a lot of costumes and a little sex appeal and you've got a great way of introducing your kids to the concert experience and to 3D movies. And even at $15 or so, that's a bargain.