Film: So Undercover

So UndercoverThe cast/crew bit: directed by Tom Vaughan, written by Stephen Pearl & Allan Loeb, starring Miley Cyrus

The ten-word synopsis: PI is sent undercover in a high school. Not sure why.

Well, Anne Hathaway did it. There’s still hope lingering somewhere that Disney Channel star Miley Cyrus might, somehow, pull off a fitting Cinderella-like transformation into a good actress. If we’re going on the basis of Hannah Montana’s latest film, though, that hope is slipping away with every passing second.

It’s evident from a first scene, an action-ish scene in which tomboy stereotype Cyrus tries to take a photo of the cheating state Senator for his wife. Every “bad-ass” line she says is coated in a thousand layers of cringe-juice. Before long, you’ll begin to wonder whether the legendary Ghost of Screen 6 is just repeatedly punching you in the face, such is the level of wincing involved. The dialogue is simply appalling, so I suppose Cyrus couldn’t really have done much better. Things don’t get any better when the plot dictates that she should, instead, become a girly-girl. She does the usual ‘comedy’ fodder thing of not getting it quite right, and saying all the wrong things. Except she only does it when it’d suit the film to be funny. Most the time, she’s more than comfortable being Brook Stonebridge instead of usual identity Molly. Every scene seems to be at ease with the next, nothing slotting together quite right.

The rest of the cast are equally annoying. The dumb blonde fails to raise a single laugh, while the boyfriend character is so straight-down-the-middle Cyrus being, like, totes obsessed put one of my eyebrows in an uncomfortably high position. Cyrus’ dad gambles, too, and she has a face-off with him, which is unintentionally mildly amusing.

The film, bizarrely, though, has a saving grace. 70-odd minutes into the film, there’s a plot twist that would make the Hitchcocks and Nolans of the world sit up from their slumped, spirit-pummelled position. Perhaps it’s because I felt this sub-Mean Girls tripe was too stupid to do a twist, but it genuinely got me, which is an increasing rarity. Chances are, though, now you know there’s a twist, it’ll suddenly appear less genius to anybody unfortunate enough to watch it after reading this. It is worth noting, though, that the delivery of the twist is botched, with the screenwriters having at least three stabs at explaining it before they’re happy to move on.

Remember 21 Jump Street? Remember that high-school comedy about someone coming undercover to investigate criminal activity in a school? Remember how funny and witty and imaginative and original and heart-felt it was? Yeah, well this is 21 Jump Street without any of that. In it’s place, you get Miley Cyrus. She may yet find her feet and start learning to act, but it’s going to take a miracle even beyond Disney to turn this most beastly of pumpkins into a beautiful princess.

3 amazeballs out of 10

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