Bad Movies We Love: The Last Song
We're stocked up on Hemsworth family hype, no? Between Liam Hemsworth's casting as Gale Hawthorne in The Hunger Games and brother Chris Hemsworth's premiere this week as Angry Barry Gibb in the Bee Gees documentary Thor, I'd say all bases are covered. Since Chris's filmography is largely devoid of guilty pleasures (aside from, perhaps, A Perfect Getaway), Bad Movies We Love is proud to gurgle up bile all over Liam's sappiest film to date, The Last Song. It's Miley Cyrus' cry-party in the U.S.A! And I'm weeping! And I love this movie. So shut up.
I have several rules when it comes to discussing this movie. 1) There will be no Miley bashing. 2) That is all. 3) !!!!
No matter what you think of writer Nicholas Sparks (who I burped upon here), or his poopy story about a perfect summer topped off with some cancer, you cannot deny the charm of these characters. You cannot deny that our lovable protagonist -- to quote the greatest song of all time -- IS...
Or JACQUES COUSTEAU.
The Last Song concerns a troubled teenage girl named Ronnie (Miley!!!1!@7!) who happens to be a gifted, Juilliard-accepted pianist. Hehe. Ronnie was arrested recently for trying to shoplift, and her parents' split is to blame because it jaded her. When she visits her dad (Greg Kinnear) for a summer at a Georgia sea town, she's cold and uninviting to him, to the idea of new friends, to the splendor of homoerotic beach sports, and to a potential crush named Will (hunky volleyball player Liam Hemsworth). Yes, Ronnie and Will eventually fall in love and carve their initials into volleyball poles across the Peach State, but I don't mind predictability. These two are cute. You sense the real-life chemistry, the force that convinced Miley to choose Liam over her own Twitter account.
Get this: Will is the perfect man. He volunteers at an aquarium (where he and Ronnie scuba-dive and sabotage ecosystems), works as a mechanic, and may attend school at either Vanderbilt -- where his rich parents want him to attend -- or Columbia, his first choice. You can just imagine how fully realized and un-stereotypical his haughty mother and father are.
There's his mom, flashing a bargain bin version of a Christine Baranski sneer. While the parental annoyances surrounding Ronnie and Will's courtship are cliched, The Last Song saves its special choices for its other fringe characters. Ronnie's younger brother Jonah, who's also visiting for the summer, is precocious but tolerable. He has a lot of heavy, dark emotions that we discover when Miley's dad admits he has supercancer.
Look at him, staring off into the frigid waters like he's Geraldine Page in Interiors. Don't run in, Jonah! You have your weary daughters Diane Keaton and Mary Beth Hurt to protect. And your womanhood!
At first I felt bad for Greg Kinnear as Ronnie's sickly father, who keeps his debilitating illness from his children. He's an Oscar nominee, y'all. But then I looked again at his filmography: Turns out he was in Mystery Men, What Planet Are You From? and Loser. This movie might've been his critical highpoint of the decade, unless you count that twee-ass thatch of condescension called Little Miss Sunshine. And you better not be.
The movie's crowning moment is a brief car-ride scene between Ronnie and Will. Maroon 5's abysmal "She Will Be Loved" comes on the radio, and Ronnie begins singing along with it in that particular Miley twang -- that mix of "perky rodent" and "serial killer truck driver from Joy Ride." Will tries to join in, but Ronnie just laughs, laughs, and covers her ears, embarrassed by the vocals flying out of his trap. That's right. Miley Cyrus plays a character who can only tolerate perfect pitch. That's a little like Joe Jonas playing an insatiable sex addict.
Add to that scene a fight at a wedding, a quick brawl in the mud during a romantic jaunt, and a maudlin conclusion where Ronnie finishes writing a song that her father never completed, and The Last Song is an ideal film for Miley Cyrus' launch on the big screen. Yes, she grimaces like the plumpest McDonald's mascot throughout the movie, but I think she's got a laissez-faire flair that's ripe for the cineplex. Laissez-Flair! An earthy antique store in Encino! Let's go there!
Before you sign off on TLS as a mild success, take a look at the list of the movie's producers. Yes, your eyes don't deceive you -- "executive producer Tish Cyrus" is happening. That's Miley's mom, and yes, that credit qualifies her to be the biggest stage mother of our time. We should congratulate Miley both for making a splash in her big debut and for surviving what I assume is parental hell. That's living the part! "Can't Be Tamed" indeed, lil' lady.