About 10 minutes into "Hannah Montana: The Movie" -- after the screaming teenyboppers outside the HM concert, after the screaming teenyboppers in a golf cart inside the concert, and after Hannah's catfight over shoes with Tyra Banks at a swank Beverly Hills boutique -- I decided to give "Hannah" the "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" test. That is, to see if a truly dreadful movie could transform itself into something simply awful within the first 15 minutes.
"Hannah" proved to have legs that "Chihuahua" could only dream of.
"Hannah Montana: The Movie," to the blissfully-over-15 demographic, is the Disney Channel creation centered around the character and teen rocker Hannah Montana, who manages to secretly divorce her celebrity from her real life as mild-mannered Miley Stewart (both portrayed by Miley Cyrus). Her big-screen debut finds Hannah, a Tennessee-girl-cum-Britney-Spears, getting too big for her Boho britches. So the character's dad (Miley Cyrus' co-star and real dad, "Achy Breaky Heart" country singer Billy Ray Cyrus) hijacks her back home to Crowley Corners, Tenn., for some "Hannah detox."
Annoying as the stereotypic portrayal of LaLa land is, director Peter Chelsom (2004's "Shall We Dance") takes it up a notch in the Volunteer State. There's giant squash, there's Miley going cornpone in overalls, gingham and pigtails (not to mention bad English), there's fun with chickens, which lay eggs, it turns out. And, for good measure, there's chisel-chinned Travis (Lucas Till), a friend of Miley's from first grade who gives a stellar "Aw, shucks, ma'am" performance worthy of The Duke. But with dimples.
It's the South that somehow eluded Horace Kephart, that renowed authority on the cultural and natural history of the Smoky Mountains region.
Eventually, painfully late into the game, "Hannah" does go "Chihuahua."
When Miley finally accepts her roots, her "Hoedown Throwdown" is a fun and feisty mix of country and hip hop. "Butterfly Fly Away" is a lovely number; "The Climb" is as well.
The ending, in this age of Michael-Phelps-convicting cell phone cameras and Roland Hedley's Twittering, suspends disbelief. By this point, you might as well. It's fantasy, and there aren't too many things more based in fantasy than a Disney character.
Even a Chanel-doused, diamond-studded chihuahua.