By Matt Brunson
THE LAST SONG
DIRECTED BY Julie Ann Robinson
STARS Miley Cyrus, Greg Kinnear
Steve McQueen, Sally Field and George Clooney are among the many actors who successfully transitioned from the small screen to the large one (and don't forget that fellow named Clint), but Miley Cyrus seems more likely to join the ranks of Kirk Cameron, Tony Danza and the Olsen twins, thespians who attempted to make the leap but fell short by about 10 miles.
In this adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks novel, the Disney Channel product stars as Ronnie, a brooding teen who's none too thrilled that she's forced to spend the summer with her father (Greg Kinnear) at his beachside home (filming took place in Savannah and Tybee Island). Still angry at him for divorcing her mom (the ageless Kelly Preston), she shows her disapproval by turning down acceptance at Julliard, refusing to eat dinner with him, and perpetually pouting whenever she's in his presence (that'll teach him!).
Initially, Cyrus' character is supposed to be this anti-establishment rebel, but the actress suggests "punk" about as much as Barney the purple dinosaur. At any rate, she eventually mellows out after meeting local hottie Will (Liam Hemsworth), a jock from a rich family. From here, the film slogs its way through the usual hoary conventions, including Will's snotty circle objecting to Ronnie's lack of wealth and prestige and the sudden terminal disease sprung on one of the principal players.
Cyrus isn't quite ready for her big-screen close-up, as evidenced by her clumsy pauses (as if she expects canned sit-com reactions after her every utterance) as well as her exaggerated enunciation that's more suited to the boob tube. But let's not be too rough on the child: It's hard to put one's best foot forward when dealing with a script that's the literary equivalent of cement shoes.