Hannah Montana is about to make her big-screen debut. If you're over the age of 14 and don't have tween girls living at home, you probably don't understand the sheer importance of this monumental, OMG-worthy moment. That's OK. We can help; your trusty reviewer saw Miley Cyrus's new movie at a sneak preview this week, seated in a row with three little girls, all of whom were wearing matching Hannah T-shirts. (Oops, my bad. I accidentally left mine at home.) And to prep you for the land of "Montana," here are seven things you should know before heading to the theater.
1. Miley Cyrus suffers from a split personality. Actually, she's kind of like Yentl, except she dresses up as a rock star instead of a man. By day, she's Miley Stewart—a normal, if precocious, teen. By night, she wears a wig, concealing her identity to undergo a Jem-like (remember, Jem? Oooh, Jem! '80s rocker Jem!) transformation into Hannah. She needs this gimmick to protect her privacy, because her pop-star half has more groupies than Bruce Springsteen. Really, she does. In real life, Hannah's concert outsold the Boss's last summer.
2. Like every self-respecting celebrity, Hannah has an entourage that's bigger than the one on "Entourage." Here are the peeps to know, in no particular order. Whenever Miley gets in trouble, her dad, Robby Ray, is there to bail her out. (Miley is to Robby Ray as AIG is to the government). He's "played" by her real-life "Achy Breaky Heart" dad, Billy Ray Cyrus. Hannah's best friend and body double is Lola Luftnagle (Emily Osment, sister of Haley Joel). Her publicist, Vita (Vanessa Williams), does a terrible job of keeping Miley out of the tabloids--is she going to get fired now that Perez Hilton called Miley the new Britney? She's also BFFs with Taylor Swift; the country diva-ette stops by to play a song.
3. Miley recently said her favorite TV show is "Sex and the City," so don't be surprised that "Hannah Montana" comes across like the junior-high version. There's no sex, of course, so that leaves us with ... shoes! The pop-star princess even gets into a cat fight--hiss--with Tyra Banks over a pair of Carrie Bradshaw-worthy heels at a department store.
4. Miley and her on-screen doppelgänger, Miley Stewart, both hail from Tennessee, where the film was actually shot. Whoa. Meta. In the movie, Hannah's celebrity gets too big for her own good, so her dad ships her home as punishment. This premise sounds a lot like a threat that Billy Ray often makes in interviews: If his daughter ever goes ballistic like Britney, they'll pack up and move back to Tennessee.
5. Hannah's love interest in the movie, Lucas Till, briefly dated Miley while they were shooting the movie. Till himself revealed this juicy gossip in an interview this week; it's no real surprise, because the 18-year-old newcomer has terrific chemistry with Miley. He plays childhood sweetheart/local horse wrangler Travis Brody, and he's bound to have a long and successful career on "Dancing With the Stars" after this. Every time Lucas appeared on screen, the little tween girls in the theater leaned forward in their chairs, transfixed by his I'm-way-hotter-than-any-of-the-Jonas-brothers personality. Then again, is anything in this movie fiction? If not, it should qualify for Best Documentary at next year's Oscars.
6. Did we mention the music? Cyrus can actually sing; she's, like, a million times better than that Danny Gokey kid on "American Idol." The movie opens with her classic "Best of Both Worlds" song, which we all saw in her 3-D concert. (Or maybe it was just me.) But her best song is a duet with her dad, "Butterfly Fly Away." It's like the Dixie Chicks meet Garth Brooks, with lyrics that would make Lady Gaga jealous: "Caterpillar in the tree/How you wonder who you'll be." Here's the song on YouTube.
7. And finally, take a hanky because this might be the last time you see "Hannah" on the big screen. Cyrus says she's committing to two more seasons of her TV show, but she's uncertain about a sequel. (As she should be: this movie ends on the pitch-perfect note.) Instead, she'll spend this summer filming a Nicholas Sparks weepy called "The Last Song."
So that's all from us. If you get dragged to "Hannah Montana" this weekend, don't feel too bad, because you'll probably end up begrudgingly enjoying it. A) It's way better than "17 Again," Zac Efron's new movie; and B) after seeing it, you'll understand why Miley is the queen of tween. She rocks. Abso-freaking-lutely.