Miley’s teen trifle
SO UNDERCOVER ★★★ Directed by Tom Vaughn. Starring Miley Cyrus, Jeremy Piven, Mike O’Malley, Josh Bowman, Kelly Osbourne, Eloise Mumford 12A cert, general release, 94 mins Molly (Miley Cyrus) is a biker chick and part-time paparazzo helping her dad – a discredited cop with a heap of gambling debts – catch various love rats on the gumshoe beat. She’s so not interested when an FBI agent (Jeremy Piven) offers 50 grand to infiltrate a snooty college sorority and cosy up to the daughter of the Georgian mafia’s accountant. But then dad comes back from the track with a sad face.
Bring on the FBI fashionistas (no, really, they’re here) – it’s time for a girlie makeover. Molly, now restyled as Volkswagon-driving Brooke Stonebridge, is duly instructed to straighten, gloss and say “Amazeballs”. (Amazeballs? Confusingly, the film is not set during the Napoleonic Wars.)
Can “Brooke” pass as the latest inductee to Kappa Kappa Zeta house, befriend the pyjama party set, unravel a major crime syndicate and get the boy? Go, Miley, go.
Tom Vaughn, the Scottish-born director behind TV’s Cold Feet and What Happens in Vegas, attempts to coax the Hannah Montana fanbase toward adulthood with this slight, goofy spy caper. Despite occasional unexpected outbreaks of intelligence – including a good gag about French colonialism and a deconstruction of Nixon’s Rico Act – So Undercover is mostly happy to be post-Disney bubblegum.
Fair enough. As a teen trifle, it’s perfectly fine: the New Orleans backdrop is pretty, Ms Cyrus is charming, and the tone is considerably less jarringly inappropriate than that of Fun Size, another recent chaser of the same demographic.
Still, even with hipper people such as Piven and Kelly Osbourne on staff, this confection is unlikely to woo new blood into the Miley Cyrus coven. A handy actor with impressive comic timing, Cyrus needs to ditch the tween queen baggage if she’s going to stay in movies.
Might we suggest a call to Mike Leigh or Leos Carax? They don’t make films with “So” in the title.