Mi­ley’s teen tri­fle

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - REVIEWS - TARA BRADY

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.

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