Am I the only one who thinks Miley Cyrus is actually a pretty good actress, and not just singing-Disney-poppet-Bill-Ray-spawn? However, while I think she’s pretty good, there’s something a little disingenuous about So Undercover, as after years as Hannah Montana and making her name out of plastic bubblegum pop culture, she’s now slightly thumbing her nose at the sort of cheesy fashion and fame ethos that made her famous.
She plays Molly, a street-wise young woman who’s been a private eye working with her dad (Mike O’Malley) ever since he was fired from the police. Molly is approached by an FBI Agent (Jeremy Piven), who wants her to go undercover in a university sorority to investigate a case involving one of the girls and a group of mobsters. Molly is a fish out of water amongst the snooty, high maintenance, materialistic college girls. Suddenly she’s dealing with bitchy sorority sisters who don’t appreciate Molly threatening their position, having to attend university classes and also finding romance with a dashing young co-ed called Nicholas (Joshua Bowman).
It’s basically a university version of Miss Congeniality, with Miley taking on the Sandra Bullock role of the FBI agent going undercover into a world of looks and makeup that she’s always sneered at. It’s passably entertaining, although rather contrived and confused. Predictably enough, Molly comes to understand and like the girls in the sorority, but only because most of them do complete 180-degree personality reversals towards the end. They’re still dreadful people, they just like Molly now.
Cyrus herself is pretty good, but there’s a slight feeling that in her attempt to escape her Disney she is slightly having a bit of a snipe at what gave her a fandom. Like the film, its feels like she’s slightly trying to have her cake and eat it. It’s not too bad and Cyrus’ fans probably won’t feel she’s giving them the finger, but it does feel a tad disingenuous.
It’s not a great film, but it’s not a dreadful one either, and it’s certainly not one you want to start thinking about, as quite of few of the plot twists don’t make any sense if you try to work out the logic, but it works as long as you just take it as silly fun.
There is one problem though, which is that it’s a frothy comedy that would probably be most appreciated by a fairly young audience, but with some pretty strong language and adult themes, it’s not really suitable for them (to be honest it was lucky to get a 12 certificate in the UK). Indeed, I’d think it’s this more than anything that’s the reason it’s gone straight-to-DVD in most countries, as it’s slightly tough to sell something that’s mainly going to appeal to young teens, when it isn’t fully suitable for them.
Overall Verdict: Silly nonsense that falls to bits the moment you start to think about it, but it’s mildly entertaining. Tweens would probably like it, although their parents probably won’t appreciate the film’s language.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac