Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Miley Cyrus: Eyebrows, Overbite and Ambition

I have reported before that Miley Cyrus, the perfectly nice kid who starred in the Disney monster hit "Hannah Montana," is a remarkably flat-footed actress, so much so the showrunners brought in Emily Osment to prop her up in most scenes. Now she has her first non-Hannah Montana movie out, The Last Song, based on a Nicholas Sparks weepie. Of course she's taken the years on Disney's soundstages to hone her craft, and the proof is in the reviews. Let's start with Rob Nelson at the usually boosterish Variety:
Cyrus, alas, hasn't yet learned not to act with her eyebrows and overbite.
Mick LaSalle, SFGate:
[T]he bottom line here is that Cyrus is ghastly in "The Last Song," bad not just in one or two ways, but in all kinds of ways. It was a disservice to the audience, to the material and to Cyrus herself that she was put in this position. [...] Cyrus plays one note - rage - in scene after scene. There's no motivating anguish underneath the anger. It's all surface snarling and sneering, and within minutes, she alienates the audience. She makes herself repellent and doesn't seem to know it.
A. O. Scott, New York Times:
Another big problem is Ms. Cyrus. [A]cting, for the moment at least, seems almost entirely beyond her. In “The Last Song” she pouts, slouches, storms in and out of rooms and occasionally cracks a snaggle-toothed smile, but most of the time she seems to be mugging for the camera, play-acting rather than exploring the motives and feelings of her character.
The hilarious, celeb-ripping part: according to wire reports, Miley wants nothing more than to go thespian.
[T]he star wants to leave the music industry for good and become a fully fledged Hollywood actress. On the red carpet for her new film The Last Song, Cyrus told reporters, "I've got a record coming out in June and then I'm done. I just want to work in movies. That's what I like and that's what I want to be doing."
I don't know if this is painfully naive or just straight from the heart. Probably the latter. And why not? Purportedly, Miley, hand-picked by her dad for the Disney show, had this property hand-picked for herself, inspired by the success of the 2002 Sparks romantic weepie A Walk to Remember. She met her boyfriend Liam Hemsworth on the set. And unlike the pressure-cooker of episodic TV production, on a movie set she only has to knock out ten-odd scenes a day, allowing her to spend most of her time in the trailer, where people bring lattes and muffins.

I would add another perk for her, that she doesn't have to memorize anything longer than a page anymore, but having watched a few episodes of her old show it was readily apparent she read much of Hanna Montana's dialog off cards. But ya know what? Who cares. If The Last Song makes money, good for everybody. Acting-wise, up-and-coming ingenues can't all be Dakota Fanning.


  1. Oh man, Miley Cyrus AND Nicholas Sparks? I'm so in line now! This is my DREAM MOVIE!

    That sounds more like bad direction than bad acting to me. Film acting, frankly, almost anyone can do. Sometimes you have to trick the actor into it by telling them their dog was hit by a car, but on film you can make furniture express an emotion convincingly.

    My guess is everybody on the set just hated her.

  2. Makes sense. Julie Robinson, a Brit director, did nothing but television before this. She was probably picked because she would never dare crack down on Cyrus' performance.

    And you're absolutely right about non-actors: think of "Slumdog Millionaire," "Precious" and "The Blind Side." Big non-actor roles, all great, all because of strong direction.

    Like I said, no down side. If "Last Song" tanks, Cyrus can either go back to singing or maybe consider acting lessons.