A screen father worth celebrating
Last weekend, Disney's new "Hannah Montana: The Movie" set a record for opening day at the box office for a G-rated live-action film, according to the Associated Press: more than $17 million. (It took in $34 million for the weekend.) I helped con...
Last weekend, Disney's new "Hannah Montana: The Movie" set a record for opening day at the box office for a G-rated live-action film, according to the Associated Press: more than $17 million. (It took in $34 million for the weekend.) I helped contribute to the take when I took my four kids, including three girls age 12 and under, to see the film on opening day.
Surveying the long lines of young teen girls literally panting with anticipation to get into the theater, I soon realized that this was the "Sex and the City" for the tween set. But we were able to sail past them for the most part, as I had pre-bought our tickets. Why? Because I love the "Hannah Montana" series, the super-hit Disney show that spawned the movie.
For the uninitiated, on the television show Miley Stewart (Miley Cyrus) is an ordinary school kid who secretly doubles as superstar Hannah Montana. That's how she gets to live the "best of both worlds," the title of her signature hit.
It's not just that the show is so wholesome -- and, by the way, the movie literally could not have been cleaner. (Note to Hollywood: I hope this hit shows that we families want more of that kind of fare.) It's not just that its premise is delightfully impossible -- what teen superstar could hide her true identity? It's not that Miley Stewart has a great sense of humor, with more than a little edge of sweet sarcasm that I confess I like. (And yes, somehow I am able to put aside moral concerns about the fact that she is, well, living a double life.)
What I really love about it all is her dad. Miley Cyrus' real-life father, Billy Ray Cyrus of "Achy Breaky Heart" fame, plays widowed dad Robby Ray Stewart. No, I don't have a crush on the man. I just appreciate that he plays the all-too-rare screen role of a father who is -- gasp! -- not just crazy about his kids (Miley and screen brother Jackson), but who is also wiser than his children. Whose kids really need him to guide them, lead them to right thinking on various dilemmas, or quite often just rein them in.
Typically in our modern pop culture, dads are depicted as bumbling fools, at best to be gotten around. It's not just Homer Simpson. The super-popular "Berenstain Bears" children's books feature a loving but silly dad who is always being saved by a super-smart mom.
And that's if dads are there at all. Often, it's "super single mom" handling things after the dad has left the scene.
Another movie we watched over the weekend, "Bedtime Stories," involves yet another mom left by her husband. It's not that this doesn't happen in real life -- it happened to me -- I just don't like the sense of "that's what dads do if they decide not to hang around and be the family dunderhead" that seems to permeate much of the popular culture.
I always let my kids know I hate that unfair characterization of fathers.
So a show like "Hannah Montana," which features a loving, strong, wise dad, even with imperfections and the times his kids occasionally get around him, is so encouraging.
That's why I bought those tickets to "Hannah Montana: The Movie" early. A fun, clean, entertaining movie, featuring an all-too-rarely-needed dad.
-- Hart hosts the "It Takes a Parent" radio show on WYLL-AM 1160 in Chicago.