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by Roger Young / 07.05.2010

Miley Cyrus’s first non Hannah Montana vehicle, The Last Song, in which she doesn’t sing, sees her taking a serious stab at being an actress. It’s like she wants to be as good as Mandy Moore in Saved but she ends up being like Britney in Crossroads but not in an interesting train smash kinda way; it’s more like a when a train is sealed and filled with a lethal sleeping gas that works very slowly.

The Last Song is full of signifiers but little actual meaning; the black emo-lite clothes for depressed teen, the shoplifting for troubled teen, the use of phrases like “pretty much” for relevant teen, the no shirt for jock, the blonde giggling for bad slut teen, the fast talking stressed mom, the fire juggling bad boy, the big house rich kid with troubles of his own, the piece of hazard tape that stays mysteriously around a pole on the windy beach for weeks to indicate that she still thinks of the boy who went away to school. And so on, it’s one of those movies where scenes happen because it’s that time for that scene not because it makes any emotional sense for the character to go there, maybe because the actors themselves are so goddamn beige. (Greg Kinnear what ever happened to you? You were excellent in, shit I can’t think of anything you were excellent in). It’s the kind of film where a lot of meals never get eaten.

Miley plays a young girl who is troubled by her parents divorce and is sent to live with her father for the summer in a Southern coastal town, filled with volley ball, turtles, dolphins, rainbows and unicorns. She starts out all emo-lite but quickly explores a range that includes caring sister-lite, blocked musician-lite, don’t want to be just another of your summer girlfriends-lite, poor wrong side of the tracks goth-lite girl’s caring friend-lite, nature enthusiast-lite, dealing with terminal illness-lite and finally receiving a sign that there is an after life-lite. It’s probably not Miley’s fault, she hasn’t had much experience as an actress and the scriptwriters probably didn’t want to test her range too much.

So basically Miley learns to love her father again just before she discovers he’s dying and then helps him finish writing his last song and in the process gets the courage to play the piano again. I was a bit like, “you silly bitch, don’t let him finish writing the song, the movie’s called The Last Song, if he finishes it, he dies!” But she didn’t hear me, and as she scribbles the last note, the make up people hurriedly apply pallor to Greg Kinnear’s face. Oh and yeah, spoiler alert, although, the whole film is a spoiler unto itself. Then during the funeral the sun shines through the stained glass window that her dad made, because he thought he was responsible for burning the church down, through Miley’s luxurious hair and then the whole town hugs and makes up. And I’m not even kidding.

What lessons do we learn from The Last Song? Firstly, that Crocs now sponsor beach volleyball, or at least beach volleyball in Miley Cyrus movies, which tells you a lot about Crocs’ target market. Secondly that Miley can’t actually play piano, because it’s all hands in close up, cut to face in close up; I mean they couldn’t have made her a country pop singer who lost her will to sing because those don’t get accepted into Julliard and that’s a pretty predictable but “important” plot point. Thirdly, Miley is a kinky bitch. She gets wet an awful lot in this film, PG wet but still, it starts with a milkshake, advances through falling into a tank at the aquarium, being covered in mud, to being washed down with a garden hose; there is, however, no slow dancing in the rain, so it’s not entirely predictable.

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