Infinity Entertainment // 2008 // 63 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Bill Gibron // October 7th, 2009
The Best of Both Worlds? Not Even the Most Mediocre of One...
The story of how Destiny Hope Cyrus, middle child of mid '90s one hit wonder Billy Ray, went from Tennessee teen to international cultural icon should be captivating. It should contain stories about her earliest days in the biz. It should blanket the viewer with information about the hard work and struggle to be recognized as something other than yet another wannabe child of a famous face -- or even worse, another commercialized House of Mouse spawn. It should focus on the TV show that made her famous and the catchy preprogrammed pop that has tween girls shouting along with every maudlin Moon/June lyric. And it definitely should have lots of talking head input from those who know the sunny superstar and her remedial rags to riches rise. What it shouldn't be, however, is some cheap, slopped together collection of red carpet EPKs, snippets from publicity appearances, out of context interview clips, and pure British tabloid trash. And yet that's exactly what The World According to Miley Cyrus is.
Giving the entire notion of an "unauthorized" story of the teen star an even worse reputation, this cobbled together attempt at capitalizing on Cyrus' success is just plain bad. It boasts little production value, can't clear any of the girl's perky poptones, and is reduced to running stock footage and news montages to make up for a lack of real access. Fame fuels these kinds of bastardized biographies. But unlike the overviews offered on A&E/Discovery Channel offshoots, there is no attempt to be merely factual here. Instead, we get backseat psychoanalysis, assertions as truths, limited context, no creative examples, and an uptight UK voiceover that sounds like the Supernanny scolding a bad child. Granted, Ms. Cyrus has nothing much to complain about. She is depicted as hyper yet homespun, sweet without being horrifically saccharine and syrupy. But The World According to... is so naggingly self-conscious, so deliberate in its desire to make a quick buck that it can't see how hollow and coarse it really is.
Perhaps the biggest issue anyone will have with this material is the "make it fit" designs in the narrative. With access to junket Q&As and endless publicity appearances, the producers cut and paste responses to fit their idea of insight. Miley might be addressing a decision about her career or the reaction from her family, but The World According to... simply inserts it wherever they deem necessary. It's the same with several of her costars, who get their one minute buzzword responses during premieres and production features turned into best buddy opinions and proclamations. On one level, there is nothing wrong with tapping into the zippy zeitgeist of some fad in the fading. It's called getting paid while the getting's good. But there is something a tad sinister about seeing a 16 year old exploited for being equally subjugated by a major entertainment concern. There are no winners in The World According to Miley Cyrus -- not the subject, not her legions of tween to teen obsessives, and not the people behind this production. While her story might not deserve much more, her status as a human being does.
As a DVD, there's nothing much to celebrate here. Though the cover art crows about a 63 minute running time, said number is actually taking the lame added content into account as well. The documentary itself is about three quarters of an hour long, with the rest of the pointless bonus features involving individuals segments from other "unauthorized" overviews of Chris Brown, Dakota Fanning, Vanessa Hudgens, and Zac Efron. The video is presented in a 1.33:1 full screen image and the sound is Dolby Digital two channel mono. Yippie. In fact, it's tough to defend this as anything other than a must-have artifact for the less than discerning Miley maniac. Indeed, at one point in this off-putting mess, our young star is likened to Judy Garland (!) and Lucille Ball (!!). If you believe that unsubstantiated balderdash, you'll buy everything The World According to Miley Cyrus is selling -- with or without a critical caveat emptor. Everyone else -- BEWARE!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Infinity Entertainment
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 63 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated