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The Independent Critic

STARRING
Miley Cyrus, Liam Hemsworth, Greg Kinnear, Bobby Coleman, Kelly Preston
DIRECTED BY
Julie Anne Robinson
SCREENPLAY
Nicholas Sparks, Jeff Van Wie
MPAA RATING
Rated PG
RUNNING TIME
107 Mins.
DISTRIBUTED BY
Touchstone
DVD EXTRAS
Set tour with Bobby Coleman; Miley Cyrus music (Ugh).

 "The Last Song" Review 
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It is rumored that upon viewing The Last Song that Disney idol and faux pop star Miley Cyrus announced that she'd likely be hiring an acting coach before her next cinematic undertaking.

One can only hope so.

Co-scripted by Nicholas Sparks based upon his own book, The Last Song has me singing Taylor Swift's Our Song virtually every time I think about the film despite the fact that Swift herself has nothing to do with the film. On the other hand, virtually nothing that Miley Cyrus does here is memorable despite the dependably weepy storyline and greeting card sentimentality that permeates any Sparks literary endeavor.

Attempting to cross over into dramatic acting, Cyrus fails. It's truly that simple. It's not that Cyrus doesn't have a stage presence...she does. It's that she hasn't quite learned what to do with that presence yet, and her performance in The Last Song is nothing more than a series of poses, gestures, facial expressions that run the gamut from happy to sad with nothing in between.

Is this harsh?

Yes.

It is also accurate.

Here, she's "forced" to spend a summer in a beach town with her dad (Greg Kinnear, in the ultimate thankless role) and her younger brother (Bobby Coleman). Of course, she'll end up falling for a volleyball playin' hunk (real life boyfriend Liam Hemsworth) and they will struggle to survive through the kinds of tragedies that only melodramatic teenage love can survive.

It makes me shed a tear just thinkin' about it, ya know?

Despite being a real life couple, Cyrus and Hemsworth are less believable than Sandra Bullock and Bradley Cooper in All About Steve. They're also infinitely less entertaining. The only thing audiences will really have to go on here will be Cyrus's history as a Disney Darling and it's simply not enough. While Hemsworth isn't exactly a master thespian, this film's failure rests squarely on the shoulders of Cyrus's disturbingly uneven, uninteresting, unappealing and ungrounded performance. This is Miley Cyrus TRYING to be an actress, rather than acting and, in the process, taking everyone in the cast with her with the exception of a valiant effort by Kinnear in a horridly written role as the father.

Directed by Julie Anne Robinson, whose primary experience has been in television, The Last Song has a small screen, 30-minute sitcom television comedy/drama feeling to it in which quick, bold statements are backed up by quick, bold scenes with quick bold emotions and quick, bold words. It's way too quick and way too build and way, way, way too fake even for those who find their romantic cores in the center of Nicholas Sparks novel.

Camera work by John Lindley adds to the film's self-important feel, as does Aaron Zigman's almost laughably hyped original score. Nelson Coates tries to create a production design that connects the film to other works by Sparks, but too often the production design only serves to heighten the sense of hyped up melodrama.

Saved from failure largely through the efforts of Kinnear and the always precocious Bobby Coleman, The Last Song throws out the caution flag as Cyrus attempts to segue from Hannah Montana to more mature roles.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic
    The Official Rating Guideline
    • A+ to A: 4 Stars                
    • A- to B+: 3.5 Stars            
    • B: 3 Stars                         
    • B- to C+: 2.5 Stars           
    • C: 2 Stars
    • C- to D+: 1.5 Stars
    • D: 1 Star
    • D-: .5 Star
    • F: Zero Stars

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