So Undercover

Screen International, December 4, 2012 | Go to article overview

So Undercover


Dir: Tom Vaughan. US. 2012. 96mins

As a transitional film aimed at helping singer-actress Miley Cyrus make then move from teen icon from her Hannah Montana television series to fully-fledged adult film star the fan-friendly So Undercover only manages to work on a very limited level. It is amiable and accessible to her core audience who have grown with Cyrus and followed her career in TV/music/tabloids, though not unique enough to find an audience who don't buy into her perky and cheerful charms.

Miley Cyrus gets to play on her genuine perky charm and solid sense of comedy timing.

The film gets a release in the UK and a smattering of other European territories pre-Christmas, though goes the straight-to-DVD route in the US, where it is set to debut in early February. With a festive box office dominated by the last Twilight film, Skyfall and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, it seems unlikely that So Undercover will make much of a dent at the UK box office, though stronger home entertainment figures would seem probable.

Miley Cyrus, now aged 20, remains and engagingly feisty personality and brings a good deal of charisma to her rather clichéd role. But while the film is very much a by-the-numbers 'going undercover' story much used in film and television for years, she does at least get the chance to fight bad guys, wield a gun, kiss a boy and frolic in her underwear in a mildly suggestive manner. There is no bad language of overt sexuality to shock her fan-base, but So Undercover does help her move into young adult roles.

The film's premise that she is a street-smart, tough-as-nails, private eye may be a dramatic leap too far (in truth her character Molly takes photographs for her investigator father, though the opening scene sees her involved in a little action as she has to escape a man she is snapping), but this is just a set-up so she can be approached by an FBI agent (Jeremy Piven, who delivers his exposition dialogue with a straight face and also brings his familiar innate charm) with an offer.

He wants her to go undercover within a college sorority so she can protect one of the college girls who holds some vital information which will be used at a trial where her father is about to turn state's evidence and testify against the mob. …

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